The Philippian Formula
After the Apostle Paul had received aid from the brethren in Philippi, he wrote and thanked them. His expression of love and care for them is instructive to us in our relationship with one another. He used the situation to instruct and encourage them in things pertaining to greater unity amongst themselves.
Firstly, he is thoughtful of their needs and presents prayer to God on behalf of the congregation and specific individuals in particular. His prayer style, in regard to the Church in Philippi, is intercessory. He thinks about them and is aware of certain needs. He then directs those thoughts to God in prayer. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy …” (Philippians 1:3-4).
Secondly, from his personal perspective of being in chains, he encourages the members that no matter their circumstances, God is doing a work in their lives. It was reminiscent of what he wrote to the church in Rome earlier, “… all things work together for good to those who love God …” (Romans 8:28). God uses the circumstances of life to help us grow in spiritual qualities. “… being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Central to Paul’s thoughts as the letter develops is the centrality of Christ to the spiritual nature of the Church. Paul has unity on his mind. The spiritual unity of the body. This unity contains a Christ-like concern for each other. This concern is derived from “the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11). It is not difficult to see what is on his mind – and should be on ours.
This concern for each other matures into an understanding of the reality of life – that trials and difficulties help mold and shape us. We come to a certainty that God’s hand is in all things that happen to us to use them for our spiritual benefit. As we each accept these things, there is a degree of unity built. “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” These are inspired words and not just suggestions. Do these words describe your current mental/spiritual frame of mind? “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others” (Philippians 2:1-4).
This week as we pray, take time to direct our thoughts by Paul’s admonition to us through the Philippians. It is really God’s admonition to us. How mindful are we of the needs of others? Are we at peace with the circumstances in our lives? “… and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ” (Philippians 4:7). This is the mind of Christ that we all should be striving to develop. With Christ’s mind, real unity and peace are possible.