The Keys To Unity

In Philippians 2:2, Paul commands the Philippians to complete his joy. He tells them they can complete his joy by being unified. He then tells them how they can be unified. Today I want to give us the Keys to Unity. We will start in verse 2 of Philippians chapter 2.

Exposition

Paul tells the Philippians they can be unified “by being of the same mind.” Essentially, he is telling them they are to seek the same goal with a like mind. The common goal is identified in the next phrases:

  • “having the same love” – We are to have a common commitment to love as Christ loves. His love was self-sacrificing and had nothing to do with selfish ambition.
  • “being in full accord and of one mind” – striving together as one soul, harmonious, and thinking one thing. Here he wants believers to be united by focusing on one common goal.

In verse 2, we learn we are united by:

  • Having the same love (vs 2)
  • Be united in the same common goal (vs 2)

Simple enough, right? But now you ask, what is the common goal? Paul does not leave us to answer this question on our own. He goes on to tell us how we can be unified in the next two verses.

Let’s Look at the Keys to Unity:

(1) verse 3: The Key to Unity is to Humble Regard Others As More Important Than Yourselves

Paul tells us that we are “To count others more significant than ourselves.” When he says this he means we are think that another person matters more than we do. This does not mean we are to think of ourselves as poor and destitute, or that someone else is better at sports than we are, when they cannot hit a baseball to save their lives, and we have played in the majors. It does not mean, we tell someone who is a terrible musician that they are better than we are when we play for the Dallas Symphony. It means we are to honor that person, to think that they matter more than we do.

Also in this verse we find the word “count” or “regard.” The word “count” or “regard” carries the idea to think about something for an extended period of time. When you count something, like how many books are on your shelf at home, how many shoes your wife has in the closet, or how many pages are in a book you have to read for school, it does not take a moment. It takes time, especially, if your wife has a closet full of shoes, or you have a ton of books, or your teacher has assigned a large number of pages to read.

Paul wants us to take that same energy and time reflecting on the fact that others are more significance than ourselves. That they matter more than we do. When we do this our pride is kept in check and our ego is deflated.

Wrangling our pride is important because that is what so often causes disunity. One group or person wants to push their own agenda, have things happen that are only beneficial to them (Selfish Ambition), or that brings them glory (Conceit).

Paul here explicitly tells us to do nothing out of “Selfish Ambition” or “Conceit.” Instead of seeking to please ourselves or bring glory to ourselves, we are to look out for the interests of others. Which is our second key to unity.

(2) verse 4: The Key to Unity is to Look Out For the Interests of Others

The word “Interests” here is a filler word. Meaning it does not exist in the Greek text. Your english translation has supplied it in order to translate the verse better. In Greek it reads, “Let each of you look not only to his own____.” After “own” there is a blank, which means you are to fill it in with whatever you look out for. You can put in words such as food, water, shelter, financial affairs, family, health, clothing, reputation, education, success, happiness, or spiritual well-being. We are not only to look out for ourselves and our own families in these ways, but we are to look out for those around us. This verse embodies Jesus command in Matt 19:19 “You should love your neighbor as yourself.”

When we look out for others interests we will be unified because we are putting others before ourselves. But we will not have a desire to do so unless we are in Christ, which is our third key to unity.

(3) verse 5: The Key to Unity is to Be In Christ

The power and reason we can be unified is because we are “in Christ.” Without Christ working in our lives we would have no chance what-so-ever of regarding others more important than ourselves, nor would we ever desire to focus on the interests of others.

Paul knows we must be in Christ before we can be like Christ.

In other words, we must be born again, we must be a believer. Without Christ changing our heart and affections, we will not seek the interests of others, we will not think others more important than ourselves, we will not humble ourselves, nor will we desire to serve others.

This means, you should not finish reading this post thinking, “I just need to try harder.” No, the only way you can be like Christ, is to be in Christ. Once we believe in Christ as our Savior, then we have the power to change, but not until then.

Implications

Think about the unity that would occur if we honored others because we thought them more significant than ourselves, and if we loved others like we love ourselves by looking out for their own interests and meeting their needs.

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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10 thoughts on “The Keys To Unity

  1. Pingback: Unity or Being Like Minded | Bill & Kathryn

  2. Pingback: My Top 10 « Christianity Matters

    1. Don,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate you interacting with my post. I am not sure I am entirely following your comment though. Would you mind explaining further.

      Blessings,
      Casey

      1. Gladly.

        Ask the casual stranger on the street (and even most Christians) as to what the greatest commandment is and they will cite what is often referred too as the Golden Rule: love thy neighbor as thyself. Humility and selflessness, two of the keys mentioned in this post, are specific actions reflecting this commandment.

        Only problem is, this answer is incorrect: the “Golden Rule” is the second.

        Jesus said to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength” as the greatest commandment. Why? The motivation and power to consistently perform the second, even in the face of persecutions and all sorts of evil (of which you will surely face) will only come from adhering first and foremost to a love of God. Otherwise, as you point out in the third key, you’ll “try harder” until you are utterly spent, withered by insult, slander, indifference, abuse, and so many other responses, leaving you despairing of everyone. Double when it involves your brothers and sisters in Christ.

        If anybody reading this is feeling spent and unable to go further, go back and spend some time with your first love. You’ll find the renewing power for the second. 🙂

        1. Don,
          Thanks for elaborating.

          I agree we must have God as our first love before we can begin to love others, hence my third key and my caution found there.

          I did not mean to insinuate loving our neighbor was first by putting key two before key three. I put it in that order because I was working through the text in Phillippians in that order as well as I wanted to end with the idea that we have to be in Christ and love Him first before we can ever hope to be unified with others.

          I agree with your idea that we must have Jesus as our supreme love in order to love others. However I disagree when you say key two is incorrect. While it may not be our first action, it is a necessary part of us being unified with others. We need to look out for their interests just like we look out for our own interests. We do this because we humbly regard them as more important than ourselves (Key 1). And because the love of Christ has been poured into our hearts; a love we then pour out to others.

          Thanks again for interacting. I love the discussion. Iron sharpens iron.

          Blessings Don.

          In Christ,
          Casey

  3. Oh! No, I wasn’t saying key two was incorrect. I was saying if someone cited the Golden Rule as the most important law – it’s second. I also wasn’t saying anything about the order you listed those keys in, as I understand why you went in that order. No, everything I was saying was just a seconding of your post, a different way of saying essentially the same thing from two different reference points. It’s all good!

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