Developing Our Communion With One Another

Phil 2:1-4

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. NKJV

In our series on spiritual maturity we have spoken on two subjects thus far.

1. Developing God's influence in your lives.

2. Developing Our Communion with God.

And this morning we want to talk about developing our Communion with one another.

Now knowing what to do and doing it have always been a problem. It is not that we do not know how we should act but implementing our plan of action. I liken us to children running and playing. We get so excited that we just forget the rules. Or we want what we want so badly that we do not take others into our consideration.

Paul writes s very straight forward list here. Be like minded. Have the same love. Be in one accord. Be of one mind. Don't do anything through selfish ambition. In humbleness esteem others better than yourself. Don't look only at those things that will benefit you but get involved in helping other people.

Now I normally would take this short list and preach how we should all be doing these things. But I think we know all of this. Don't we? Don't we know that God does not like us to be divided over all the stuff that we are? Don't we know that God wants us to love each other as He has loved us? Don't we know that we are basically selfish and we have a constant struggle with our own self-centered desires?

So instead of running those things in the ground, I want to show you the reasons that Paul gave these Philippians for doing the things he said.

  1. Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ,
    1. I think this first one is the main one.
      1. But what is he saying.
    2. Paul is not asking a question.
      1. The if in these phrases in no way doubts the conditions stated.
      2. We might translate if as since.
      3. If ei (NT:1487). Paul uses four conditions in this verse, all of the first class, assuming the condition to be true. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament,
    3. The word translated here consolation or comfort is also translated exhortation.
      1. Jac J. Muller says in his commentary on this passage, "can be translated 'comfort' or 'consolation' (Luke 2:25; 2 Cor 1:3, 4; 7:4). But also by 'exhortation' (Acts 13:15, Rom. 12:8; cf. Heb. 13:22). The latter is not only the most usual with Paul, but also fits well here." p 72
      2. The first is that there is a certain consolation in Christ, the word "any" being the translation of the indefinite pronoun in Greek which means "a certain thing." The word "consolation" is the translation of a Greek word which has various meanings; "imploration, supplication, entreaty, exhortation, admonition, encouragement, consolation, comfort, solace," the meaning to be used in any particular case being determined by the context in which the word is used. What these Philippians needed right here was not consolation but exhortation, in view of the lack of unity among them. Our translation reads, "In view of the fact that there is a certain exhortation, admonition, encouragement in Christ." That is, Christ's wonderful life should be an admonition and exhortation and encouragement to the Philippians to live in a state of harmony among themselves. Paul uses this as a basis for his exhortation to them. Thus our fuller translation reads, "In view of the fact therefore that there is a certain ground of appeal in Christ which exhorts, ... be like-minded." Kenneth Wuest
    4. But what does this look like.
      1. I think Paul is saying, look at what Christ has done for you. Think of all that you have because of Him. Think of what a difference He has made in your life, and all the troubles He has saved you from.
      2. He is saying that since Jesus continues to them to be an encouragement at strength as they struggle through life, then they owe something to each other.
      3. I would liken this to a fighter in the ring. As the bell sounds he goes out to struggle with the opponent. The crowd is jeering and throwing slurs at him. He gets hit from every side and it seems he has lost all strength to carry on. Then the bell rings and he goes back to his corner where his trainer and coach greets him with words of encouragement. He wipes the cuts and the bruises and gives him cool water to drink. He tells him that he can do it. And by the time bell rings again he is ready for another round.
      4. Or it is like the children going off to school. There the other children are not always a nice as they should be. The teacher sometimes doesn't always seem fair and they do not always win the prize. They tough it through though for they know that when they get home mom and dad will listen to them and tell them just how important they are and how much they love them. And although those parents cannot take away all the hurt, they can give the kids strength and hope to get back up in the morning and go at it again.
      5. And in this life for you and me, when we run up against things we cannot overcome and we get smacked in the faces and we are not treated fairly, we have one who understands what it is to be misunderstood. He knows what it means to be persecuted without a cause. He knows what it means to be tempted. He knows how it feels to have your closest friends to run out on you. And if you will come to Him He will strengthen you and comfort you. He will encourage you. And when He is finished we can get up and go back into the ring.
      6. I mean is we know that Jesus died in our place.
      7. If we know that He took away our shame and our sins.
      8. If we know that he suffered and died so that we might have life, eternal life.
    5. Then can we not, ought we not to be a comfort and a strength, an encouragement and helper to our fellow believers.
      1. Then is it too much for Him to ask of us:
      2. Be of one mind.
      3. Don't do anything through selfish ambition.
      4. In humbleness esteem others better than yourself.
      5. Don't look only at those things that will benefit you but get involved in helping other people.
    6. Paul puts it this way, 2 Cor 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation. NKJV
  2. If any comfort of love
    1. The word "comfort" is the translation of a Greek word which means literally, "a word which comes to the side of one to stimulate or comfort him." It speaks of persuasive address. Lightfoot translates it by the words "incentive, encouragement." It is almost equivalent to the word rendered "consolation," but has an element of tenderness and persuasion involved in its meaning. Wuest
    2. The comfort that Jesus gives us is tender.
      1. He is not like the nurse that scrubs the wound and assures you that it is necessary and you wonder if they are not enjoying your pain.
      2. When Jesus comforts us He is tender, He feels our pain and speaks the sweetest words of comfort.
    3. Paul's point is that if we have known that in our lives, and we all have if we belong to Him, then is it too much to ask for that same tenderness when we are dealing with other of God's children.
      1. We often are not touched with the pain of those we deal with.
      2. We do not always empathize with those who have fallen or have gone astray.
      3. Since Jesus comes along had helps us pick up the pieces of our broken lives is it too much for Him to ask us to do that for others.
    4. Their realization of divine love which reached down and saved them, should urge them to live in a spirit of unity with one another. In addition to that, this divine love produced in the hearts of the Philippian saints by the Holy Spirit, should cause them to so love each other with a love that impels one to sacrifice one's self for the one loved, that their little& differences will be ironed out, and they will live in unity with one another. Wuest
  3. If any fellowship of the Spirit
    1. Then there is a certain fellowship of the Spirit. The Greek word translated "fellowship," speaks of a common interest and a mutual and active participation in the things of God in which the believer and the Holy Spirit are joint-participants. Wuest
    2. Since we all have ths same Spirit, were all born again by the same Spirit, are all taught by the same Spirit, then we ought to be all going the same direction.
    3. If we are all being controlled by the Spirit then we of necessity must have a unity among us.
      1. The obvious answer is that not all are Spirit controlled but some are serving only their own self interest.
  4. If any affection and mercy
    1. Wuest says that the word affection means "tenderheartedness" and that mercies could be rendered "Compassionate yearnings and actions"
    2. The idea is that if they would handle their differences with tenderness and compassionate actions they problems would go away.
    3. Lets be truthful some of our feelings toward other church members have been far less than tenderheartedness or compassionate.
    4. But we know what it is to be treated that way, for that is how God in Jesus Christ has treated us. Then we should have these same attitudes toward others.

Lord we confess our sin of not treating others as you have treated us. Lord Please forgive me for my attitudes toward those whom you love and died for. Give me the grace to live in relationship to your children as you have related to me.

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com