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.
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.
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.