We are now beginning chapter two of Philippians. Going through the first chapter was awesome. We cannot stop there however. We must continue on and continue to ask questions, challenge the text and learn what God has for us through Paul’s missionary letter. We will continue at the same pace we have been going at – three verses or so at a time. With that, we will begin.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy be being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
This is Paul’s climax in his letter. This is where everything draws.
Paul is calling the community to be in agreement with his thought patterns here.
He wants his joy to be complete – be one – be the body of Christ together.
It is important to consider others more important than oneself.
What we need to understand first and foremost is this “if” clause Paul writes. In Greek, there are three different types of “if” clauses. They are important because they have three significantly different meanings that can be confusing if not read in the right manner. This if clause is called the “first case conditional.” It is the most popular if clause in the Bible. The first case conditional ultimately assumes that the “if” is actually true. Paul is basically saying; “If there is any encouragement in Christ – and we know that there is,” then complete my joy. If we were to take each phrase and put, “and we know there is” after it, we get the full meaning of what Paul is writing here in this text. To some, it might be a small thing, but it is important to understand. If we do not read it in the right light, then we might assume that these things are not happening or that Paul is pleading for these things to be true. They are true and Paul knows it.
“Complete my joy” is an interesting phrase. Paul is a master of words and phrases. Realize that Paul didn’t write, “Give me joy” or any other phrase with regards to his joy. He is asking the people of Philippi to complete it. Paul’s joy comes not from the people, but from Christ, who gave him the ability to bring the good news to them. If the people were to follow Paul’s commands for the church, they would be completing his joy, because all that Paul had worked for would come full circle. Paul’s joy then is something that cannot be established by the people of Philippi or given. They can only complete it.
The final thoughts here are probably one of the most counter-cultural things you and I can do as believers. If we were to live in such a way that our humility shined brighter than our conceit or haughtiness, I think the Gospel would be received more. We always strive to be noticed and well liked. We are willing to pursue things that give us the competitive edge or make us more noticeable. When was the last time I have put other people before me for the sake of humility? When was the last time you have been challenged with such a challenge to live in that kind of way? I think we see glimpses of it from time to time, but never live it out like we can or should. I guess we just have a lot to work on.
I think one thing we have to grasp here is community. The community heals the brake or fragmentation it experiences. For the context of the passage, the break or fragmentation derives from Jew and Gentile. For us, our break could be denominational or religious. It could be racial or ethical. It could be the outcast or the disenfranchised. Whatever your break or fragmentation might be, complete Paul’s joy and be of the same mind. Imitate love for others to follow and live in such a way that glorifies Christ and leaves a lasting impression for the sake of the Gospel. Then we can see what true beauty looks like – the good news. God bless.