One In The Spirit?
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Holy Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete
by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2:1 (NIV)
Paul writes to the Philippians, he encourages them to look into their hearts and consider their stance with Christ. He points out that they should receive a building up, an empowerment, from being in His presence. The apostle then spells out what he means by the Lord strengthening them.
Did they receive “any comfort from his love”? Do we receive any consolation from His grace? If any of us have gone through the loss of a loved one, we have benefited from that great love He has for us.
For those of us who have dealt with depression, Jesus has stayed by our side and comforted us. Maybe Christ guided us through a deep valley by showing us how He helped in times past. He could have sent someone to us who had experienced similar feelings or circumstances.
What about “fellowship with the Spirit”? Jesus promised us a comforter to help us through this life after He ascended into heaven. By doing this for us, He remains close to us, especially when we face difficulties or even events we don’t understand in our lives.
Were the Philippians filled with “tenderness and compassion”? Do we possess these traits? Do we respond to people who hurt or those in grief as though we are led by the Lord or by the thoughts of society? As I write this, a thought comes to mind. It goes like this, “Always use tender words because sometime (we) might have to eat them.”
The word compassion comes from two Latin words, cum-meaning ‘with’ and pathos-meaning ‘suffering’. Have we needed to ‘suffer with’ a friend recently? When we display compassion, sometimes it’s as simple as listening to another person as they talk. Other times, we sit with them in a hospital. Or we carry in food to their home.
The Same Heart
“. . . then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Philippians 2:2 (NIV)
Paul tells the Philippians to be of similar minds. This thought could be understood to have two meanings. 1. Every one who works for the Lord should understand the thinking
of those with whom they minister. 2. All who minister in the name of Christ should have His mind.
To have the same heart that of Jesus Charles Sheldon wrote a classic, In His Steps-What Would Jesus Do? The story told of a church that had an unusual visitor one Sunday. Something happened that caused the pastor to re-evaluate his walk with the Lord. The entire congregation was invited to enter into this project of asking themselves, “What would Jesus do?” before they made any decisions. Asking that one question changed the lives of a lot of the people.
Paul challenges us to be “one in spirit and purpose”. Here he speaks of unity. Again our souls should be melded into one with each other and with Jesus Christ. A hymn written by Peter Scholtes in the 1960’s speaks of this concept. “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” The first verse starts out, “We are one in the Spirit, we are
one in the Lord. . .” That verse ends with the line, “And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.” The writer has some wonderful thoughts in the verses that follow.
Periodically, God’s children should ask if we are of the same mind as Jesus. When we do this exercise, we should go back to the basics of our faith and search our hearts for the way God wants us to live. If anything that displeases God comes to our hearts and minds, we need to make things right with Him.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.”
Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
Paul told the Philippian believers to forget self and remember they were not number one. He tells them to put others and their needs before the needs they had. This flies in the face of the “me” generation. Also, Paul’s guidance would cause people to deal with the mindset of recent years that ‘it’s all about me.’
Over 25 years ago, I started worshipping at a small church about a half mile from where we live. One of the older ladies of the church once told a group of us a way to handle ministering to others and basically how to live our lives; she used the word JOY. She said it meant *J*esus, *O*thers, *Y*ourself.
As we enter this season of Lent, let us all prayerfully reflect on what it means to follow and to emulate Jesus as we walk in this world.
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