“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:1-4
I remember growing up I would often hear adults quote a cliché or an idiom, which to me as a young man, would anger me. Whether it was my parents, teachers, or my brother, when I heard this statement I would sense I was being talked down to, or even worse I would feel as if they were trying to insult my intelligence -- what little of it I had. It was a statement like “Do as I say, not as I do.” To me that statement or something like it was fake and hypocritical, and it truly is. Anytime someone holds you to a standard that they themselves would not live by it is duplicitous (dishonest) and phony. One of the biggest complaints by people who have never put their trust and faith in Jesus is this exact example. Many have said that the church is full of Hypocrites. The sad part is too often it is true. Many in the Church community have placed standards on the world that they themselves do not live by.
Paul started this 2nd chapter by appealing to the Christ-followers of his day with some strong and moving words…. Paul says in verses one and two, if there is anything good in this “Christian” life, anything that is lovely or pleasing to you, that they, his friends in Philippi could fulfill his joy by…”doing what he does”. This is a radical statement. Paul is not just saying “do as I say,” no Paul is putting his entire “Christian” life on display and said “do what I do”. Paul wanted his friends to make his life an example to live by. This was both radical and dangerous. Does this make Paul arrogant or prideful? No, I think the work that Jesus did with him on the Damascus Road was so profound and so transforming that Paul was confident that he would honor Christ, not just in word but also in deed.
Paul instructed the people of Philippi to have the same characteristics that were displayed in his life. These characteristics were only present in Paul’s life because of the Holy Spirit. These same fruit are so desperately needed in the church today. Paul starts this list by saying they should be “like minded”. What he was saying was that they should pursue with all passion and fervency the things Paul pursued. The first thing I believe that Paul pursued even though it is unstated in this scripture was being like his master, Jesus. Paul had a passion to be more like Jesus. He was modeling the life of Jesus, and he was being Jesus to the people he came into contact with. Paul literally became Jesus’ hands and feet and strived to be like His master with all his heart. Everything Paul did was to bring glory to his master. Whether it was planting churches, preaching or healing the sick, he was pursuing this passion.
In essence, when Paul says “be like me”, he is saying be like the one I try to imitate. Paul was saying be more like Jesus. That is a message we all need to hear. If we are not striving to be like Jesus we are failing as a Christ-follower. Ask yourself frequently this week can people see Jesus in me? And challenge yourself to be more and more like him, making a conscience effort to be like Jesus in your deeds, conversations and your world.
In the next installment we will look at the qualities Paul challenged the church to possess and see how we can apply them to our lives.
God Bless and have an awesome week!