In Philippians 2 the apostle Paul writes to the group of believers at Philippi and encourages them to remain unified in the gospel, saying:
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.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. . . .
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life,
To live in unity, believers must be “like-minded” by practicing harmony, humility and helpfulness. The attitudes we hold are the basis from which our actions spring. When our attitudes are haughty and self-centered we subjugate others. When our attitudes are humble we can find fulfillment in helping or serving others.
Living in humility does not mean making ourselves a doormat for everyone else, it simply means the ability to resist considering our own desires and opinions as paramount. The Christian ought to emulate Christ’s example of meekness and humility (Matt 11:28-30 ; 2 Col 10:1 ). Humility is the foremost test of a truly great person or leader ( Luke 22:24-27).
Divisions in churches occur when someone decides their opinion or need is more valid than what is popularly held. Others agree and the church begins taking sides. Discussion is abandoned and arguments ensue. A rift is formed because each side insists they are right and must prevail.
When the issue is a matter of scriptural doctrine, all parties must defer to the Word of God. The group Paul was writing to was dealing with “teachers” who came in and convinced some that to be saved, they had to be circumcised. Jews were required to do so as a sign of obedience to God, but no such directive was given concerning Gentile converts to The Way (what would later be called Christianity). These Judaisers were trying to pull Jesus followers back into Judaism.
We may face conflict over a desire to “modernize” our theology. If so, cool, calm heads need to accurately study The Word. Humility will come in recognizing the authority of The Word. If we insist on accommodating our own desires over honoring God there is no humility, we are serving ourselves not God.
If the conflict is over the color of the new carpeting for the sanctuary, humility will come in the form of allowing the opinion of the majority to prevail. Each party should calmly offer their reasoning, then allow the whole body to decide. And the matter should then be closed and the whole body moves on; without mumbling and hurt feelings getting in the way of everything else they do.
Humility means recognizing that the church needs people to serve as parking lot attendants and child care workers as well as song leaders and worship service assistants. Serving well is service to God no matter in what capacity.
When a body of believers can all set aside pride and esteem one another as at least equal to themselves, they will all serve God in unity and effectiveness.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.