Harmony in the Congregation
When the congregation has harmony, we are “…having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind….in lowliness of mind…esteem[ing] other better than themselves. Look[ing] not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Philippians 2:2-4. We are to have this same mind-set because it was the mind-set of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:5. We see the first century Christians as they prayed with great faith, Acts 4:31, preached the Gospel of Christ with great power, Acts 4:7, 13, 29, enjoyed great fellowship, Acts 2:21-46, and they experienced daily growth, Acts 2:47.
In Philippians 2:1-8 Paul challenges the Philippian congregation to be of one accord. How were they to accomplish this? Their consolation [comfort, encouragement] comes from their being in Christ. They are consoled by love, which has a persuasive power to move them to harmony. We as Christians are to be like-minded, have the same love, and be of one accord and one mind by having the mind (disposition – mind-set) that Christ had. To have the mind-set of God is to be holy and to have the mind-set of the Christ is to be obedient to God. How can we have harmony in the congregation?
First, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory.” (Verse 3). What is “strife”? The Greek word eriQeia means “selfish ambition” (BAGD, p. 309). What is “vainglory”? The Greek word κενοδοξία means “excessive ambition.” (BAGD, p. 427). When strife is ended, it gives new life. Strife keeps bad company because it is joined with envy, divisions, carnality. 1 Corinthians 3:3. It is also named among the “works of the flesh.” Galatians 5:19-21. James puts it bluntly in James 3:14-16 as being “earthly, sensual, devilish [Greek -demonic].” Service to glorify the servant is worthless. The Word of God says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men…” Colossians 3:23.
Second, “Let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Verse 3). This is a different dimension to self-esteem. In our world, there is a great push for self-esteem. Webster’s defines self-esteem as “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself.” Here we are called to have a higher esteem for others. How may we accomplish this? Esteem for others grows out of Biblical love. Love enables us to forget the faults and shortcomings of others. When one builds on a fault, expect an earthquake! Biblical love enables us to look for the best in others. This esteem causes us to “look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Verse 4). Our concerns for others should be greater than for ourselves. We should want to protect them and that which is dear to them. This same word, ἡγέομαι, is used in Hebrews 13, 17, 24 and is translated “have the rule over.” This word is used in 1 Timothy 6:1, “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count [ἡγέομαι] their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.”
Third, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Verse 5). Here is the key! Here is how to put away strife and vainglory. Here is how to esteem others better than ourselves. Here is how to care more for the things of others than for our own. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps…” 1 Peter 2:21. Jesus is our example! The mind [disposition or mind-set] of Christ conquers carnality. It makes us humble instead of hateful. It makes us giving instead of greedy. It makes us selfless instead of selfish. We learn about the mind of Christ at the Cross. He laid aside His glory; how can we seek glory? He humbled Himself; how can we be proud? He became a servant; how can we covet high positions? He was obedient to death; how can we do less?