In Philippians we read, "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose." (Philippians 2:2) "Of the same mind." What does that mean? It is a common biblical theme. Jesus said, "... I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." (John 17:23) In Ephesians we see the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3) and the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13). So, what is this?
Some would argue that it is thinking alike. I would think that would be patent nonsense. No two people think alike. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12 that we all have varying roles. No, it must be something else. And, as it turns out, the Bible offers a different idea.
First, there is the Spirit. That is common to Christians. The faith is common to Christians. Paul says, "Put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." (Colossians 3:14) Things we should all share--the Spirit, the faith, love. There is another.
Right after Paul implores the Philippians to be of the same mind, he tells them this:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus ... (Philippians 2:3-5)
If you don't know what follows, you should look it up. The attitude that we are supposed to have is the humility of Christ. And, oh, what humility! God in essence to God in flesh to God on the cross. "This attitude," Paul is saying, "will unite you."
And it's not just Paul. The concept of humility in Scripture is vast. Jesus said, "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:11) Solomon wrote, "The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life." (Proverbs 22:4) Peter said, "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you." (1 Peter 5:5-6) As it turns out, this is just a small sampling.
We all know of the sin of pride. "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2) It is often a very clear sense of being better (Romans 12:3).. Sometimes pride masquerades as a wolf in sheep's clothing in a flock of humility. "Oh," this version says, "I don't have any special talents, any special gifts. I'm not really that important." You know, in direct contradiction to God. That is some pride! Most of the time it's the straightforward "looking out for #1", the "I will have what I want", or, in the biblical words, "I will be like the Most High." (Isaiah 14:14)
James says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6) So here we have two extremes. On one hand we are to have the attitude of humility that Christ (you know, the Christ of Christianity) had. On the other hand, God is opposed to the proud. So we can identify with Christ, or we can take God as our opponent. It's amazing to me how often we Christians aim to do both.
Let's face it. Humility is not in vogue today. "Self-empowerment", "self-esteem", "self-actualization", these kinds of things are cool. Certainly not "with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves." That is right out. But that's what we're called to be. It's not "doormat" Christians. It is the view that others are more important. It doesn't diminish self, but elevates others. We understand that our flesh is inadequate and our only strength is from God. We view others as important and in need of our love. It isn't a lack of strength, then, but sufficient power from God to place others above ourselves.
What would that look like? What would it look like in our interactions with others? With our conversations? With our work habits? With our family relationships? What would it look like to others? What would it look like when we are wronged for Christ's sake and respond with humility rather than a demand for our rights? What kind of unity would we enjoy if we were that kind of humble? I'll tell you one thing. I'd much rather learn that form of humility that Christ characterized than take God on as my opponent.
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