The attitude Jesus showed in washing His disciples' feet is the same attitude that enabled Him to give up the power and glory of being like God and become a man. Here we see that our Creator, the Almighty God, is first and foremost a servant. He is willing to serve His own servants! When we come to the point that we are able to do everything in an attitude of service and humility, we are truly following Jesus Christ.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Philippian congregation was generally a wonderful group of people. Many different commentaries state that of all the groups that Paul wrote to, Phillipi was probably the best of them all. However, Paul was writing to these people with some measure of sadness because two ladies were feuding, and it was inexorably dividing the group into rival camps. In this section, the apostle is spelling out our Christian responsibility.
Notice that nowhere in the entire epistle to the Phillipians does Paul tell them, "Don't come to church." He did not say, "Split away by yourself." That is what is happening in the greater church. Paul did not say, "Just go sit in your living room." That is not an option with God. He tells us here that we have to look to and seek higher things. He says to let our conduct be worthy of the gospel that we say that we believe.
How far did Jesus Christ go to make peace? To the death! He did not allow the hostility of the world against Him to justify hostility against those who were mistreating Him.
We should not be misled by the word "if" in verse 1. Paul is not stating a "maybe." He is stating an absolute fact. That word "if" is better understood as "since": "Since there are these things in you because of God's Spirit, sacrifice yourself. Make my joy complete and use them." What are we to use? Love, fellowship of the spirit, bowels and mercies. "Fulfil you my joy, that you be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."
Because of God's calling, because He granted us repentance and gave us His Spirit, we have already been enabled by His Spirit to use these things to make peace, to be of one accord, to be of one mind. "The mark of the beast" can be overcome by God's Spirit in us, but we must sacrifice ourselves to use it. It is already there. Thus, Paul is saying, "Use God's love in you, and be of one mind. Quit fighting with each other to gain the upper hand. Consider the other person better than you, and serve him by looking out for his interest."
When he says, "Let this mind be in you," what he literally says in the Greek is, "Keep thinking like this." How? As Jesus Christ has already shown us. He is saying, "Don't let your mind be drawn toward what you consider to be the cause of the offense." Or, "Don't dwell upon those things."
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast
We live in a society absorbed with its own feelings. Today, people are addicted to seeing themselves as victims and demanding special tolerance, favor, acceptance, or gifts. Yet a mind concerned with its own painful experiences, rejections, mistakes, or emotional hurts is one that refuses healing. These emotions comfort like old bandages, and many are afraid to see what is underneath. Some cling to them because they give special "handicap" privileges, and they use them to justify what they believe, say or do. It is a demonic delusion because it only perpetuates the pain and denies the freedom or forgiveness that God offers.
Pain should serve to teach and mature us, not box us into the darkness. Hebrews 2:10 says Christ learned by the things He suffered—His pain was His teacher. Likewise, our painful experiences can teach us the contrasts between this human life and the glorious life for which God is preparing us.
However, a mind that feels pain speaks pain, and, if left unchecked, will eventually drive others away. Sharing a painful experience with a confidant is empowering and emotionally bonding, but continually sharing it with anyone who will listen deludes us into thinking that it is good for us when it is actually a kind of psychosis. Preoccupation with personal pain denies the fruit of the Spirit. It brings no peace or joy or love, etc.
Proverbs 23:7 teaches, "For as [one] thinks in his heart, so is he." It is easy to become caught up in life's painful experiences, and some of us have enough of them to fill novels. Yet Paul instructs the Philippians not to dwell on themselves so much: "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4). At times, the best way to put aside pain is to care for the needs of someone else. Positive and outgoing communication provides plenty of time to talk about painful experiences, but it does not allow them to become a way of life. When someone asks, we can feel free to express some of the painful events of our lives, but we should show interest and concern for the other's experiences and provide encouragement as needed.
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part Two)
Philippians 2 is written to a congregation with a problem of division within it. Two ladies were having a fight or at least a strong disagreement. Paul, at least partially, writes what he does in Philippians to correct this problem. He advises in broad principles how division that exists between any two people can be healed.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 7): Ephesians 4 (D)