Paul’s Appeal to Have the Mind of Christ <2:1-30>
(a) Paul’s Exhortation to Humility <2:1-4>
In his counsel to the Philippian Christians, Paul suggests that if they have been any encouragement through their unity with Christ, or any consolation from His love imparted to them, or if there has been any tenderness or compassion resulting from the relationship of The Spirit of God in them; he would like them to make his rejoicing fulfilled, “then make my joy complete by being like-minded” <2:2 (NIV)>, not uniformity in thought but an agreement with each other to find some common ground. Since it is impossible for any group of people to be able to come to identical conclusions on any topic or discussion, we need to find that common ground on which we can all proceed, and this is very important in any local church for Satan will surely use any disagreement to cause individuals to “take sides” resulting in divisions within the congregation. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” <2:3-4 (NIV)>. Here again we are reminded that the cause of all discontent is selfish ambition, where one individual determines that everyone else should accept that individual’s position; this is the work of the Devil, and he will continue to do this in the congregation as long as he is allowed to do so <cf Gal.5:20; Jn.15:12-17; Jas.4:1-2>. Paul is indicating that the way to avoid such a conflict is not to push our individual interests but to humbly consider the good of others in all decisions.
(b) Christ’s Example of Humility <2:5-16>
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” <2:5 (NIV)>; and this is the solution to all conflicts. When we consider the humility of Christ; He gave up His “equality with God” by becoming in nature a servant to all mankind; He endured the rejection of mankind, their scorn, He identified in our misery, and finally suffered at the hands of those that rejected Him and murdered Him <Phil.2:6-11; cf Isa.53:1-12>. God’s approval of such humility was to exalt Christ to the highest place. So when conflicts arise let us carefully consider each other’s interests and put our confidence in the leading of The Holy Spirit <cf Matt.20:26-28; Jn.13:1-5, 12-17>.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” <2:12-13 (NIV); cf Eph.1:5, 9>: therefore continue to work out your salvation, not to work for your salvation; God has already done all that is necessary for our salvation, it is now our duty and responsibility to continue in our salvation <cf 1 Cor.15:58; Heb.4:11; 12:1; 2 Pet.1:5-10; 3:18; Psa.2:11; Isa.66:2b>.
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life — in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” <2:14-16 (NIV)>. The ideal of our conduct in regards to our personal character, our conduct towards other believers and our relationship with unbelievers – having the mind-set of Christ as our way of life will discipline our complaining and conflicts, allowing us to shine as lights in our community as Christ encouraged us; for when this is our manner of living, the outsiders will take note and possibly seek the reason for our freedom from strife.
(c) Paul’s Example of Humility <2:17-18>
“But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” <2:17 (NIV)>. What did Paul mean by this statement? To gain some understanding, here is a commentary from Barnes’ Notes: “It refers to a drink-offering, where one who was about to offer a sacrifice, or to present a drink-offering to the gods, before he tasted of it himself, poured out a part of it on the altar….. It is used also to denote the fact that, when an animal was about to be slain in sacrifice, wine was poured on it as a solemn act of devoting it to God; compare Num 15:5; 28:7, 14. In like manner, Paul may have regarded himself as a victim prepared for the sacrifice. In the New Testament it is found only in this place, and in 2 Tim 4:6, where it is rendered, “I am ready to be offered;” …. It does not here mean that Paul really expected to be a sacrifice, or to make an expiation for sin by his death; but that he might be called to pour out his blood, or to offer up his life as if he were a sacrifice, or an offering to God. We have a similar use of language, when we say that a man sacrifices himself for his friends or his country.” (from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997-2014 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.) <cf Rom.12:1>. Paul rejoices in the fact that he regarded his prison experience as a sacrifice for them and they should rejoice with him, “So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” <2:18 (NIV)>, for such is the example set by Christ Himself.
(d) Timothy’s Example of Humility <2:19-24>
Paul now speaks to the obvious expression of Timothy’s humility, “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” <2:20-21 (NIV)>, for he demonstrates a genuine interest in their well-being while in disregard of his own comfort. Timothy had proved himself by serving with Paul in the work of the gospel <2:22>, and expresses that he, Paul, also expects to return to them soon <2:24>.
(e) Epaphroditus’ Example of Humility <2:25-30>
Paul also expresses his desire to send Epaphroditus back to them referring to his example of humility; “Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.” <2:29-30 (NIV)>; another example of what Paul referred to previously when he expressed his own example of humility. Epaphroditus’ return will also be a reason for rejoicing, “Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.” <2:28 (NIV)>.
So we see five examples of exhibiting the “Mind of Christ” in the conduct of a Christian.