Philippians 2:1-13

2023 A Proper   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:39
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Philippians 2:2

Philippians 2:2 (NRSV)
2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

Make My Joy Complete

I love it when people pick up there phones and have a look at them - then they smile. You know then - that someone on the other side cared enough to send them something that made them smile.
Or maybe they just had a moment - a thought of someone they cared about and they celebrated a moment of joy.
In this case I like to imagine a smile on Paul’s face. Thinking about the congregation at Philippi.
He is writing from Ephesus.
And he is in prison.
Prison in those days was a lot less comfortable than it is these days.
Not that prison is comfortable these days.
But they weren’t really bothered with feeding prisoners or giving them any access to any human rights.
In this prison from Rome the prisoners were lowered through the floor into a basement that led to an underground sewer.
Somehow - perhaps dictating to someone - through the hole in the ground - Paul says words that make him smile:
“make my joy complete”
The ability to speak of joy - when in prison - is a sign of Paul having a set of priorities that completely undermines the system of the day.
People are trying to be cruel to him - trying to keep him from sharing the good news of the gospel.
But
In prison his thoughts are about the people he is writing to.
about the good that he can do in service of God - despite the gravity of his circumstances.
Some highlights from chapter 1:
Philippians 1:6 NRSV
6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:9 NRSV
9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight
Philippians 1:21 NRSV
21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.
Philippians 1:29 NRSV
29 For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well—

Be of the same mind

Philippians 2:2 NRSV
2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
So Paul is asking the Philippians to make his joy complete - from a prison cell - probably in Ephesus and now we start to hear of what he wants for his jooy to be complete.
Maybe a different Bible translation would help us a bit:
Philippians 2:2 MSG
2 then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.
Same mind / Agree
Same love / Love
Full accord / Deep-spirited Friends
OkK So Paul seems to be on to something - he has a set of priorities that seem to make the worst of prisons bearable.
Now I’m not saying that we should all stop fighting and working for better lives.
I’m not saying that we should just accept injustice and suffer with a smile on our faces.
Paul does work to change his circumstances - speaking up for himself, campaigning - working for what is right.
But when things can’t be changed he seems to have a good way of dealing with them.
So the first thing he asks them to do is: Be of the same mind.
I always cringe a bit when we sing the hymn (at synods and conferences) - All Praise to our Redeeming Lord. I think it is a little bit generous in its description of the church:
4 E’en now we think and speak the same, and cordially agree; concentered all, through Jesus’ name, in perfect harmony.
It makes me chuckle because that is not what we do or what we are… we disagree about things. We clash - there is not much perfect harmony!
But - somehow Jesus does bring us together.
I don’t think though - that Paul thought we should all think the same about everything or be in agreement about everything.
I don’t think he is that naive.
He is not just speaking about us being all the same - and thinking the same - and not asking too many questions.
When he says have the same mind he seems to be saying rather:
Be united in your strategy

26.16 φρονέωa: (derivative of the base φρον‘thoughtful planning,’ 26.15) to employ one’s faculty for thoughtful planning, with emphasis upon the underlying disposition or attitude—‘to have an attitude, to think in a particular manner.’

The invitation is to be united in our attitude.
And as we continue through the passage we read:
Philippians 2:5 NRSV
5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
Philippians 2:7–8 NRSV
7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
This mind - this same mindedness - seems not to insist on everyone thinking the same so much as it seems to rather insist on everyone being a little more humble in their thoughts.
This is a bit hard to hold together in our heads - but Paul’s call to make his joy complete - is a call toward agreement - but not in a way that undermines our individualities.
He’s just inviting us to hold our positions a little more humbly.
And be united in our purpose and our strategy.
Good news:
Husbands and wives don’t have to agree.
Children and parents don’t have to agree.
Pastors and congregations don’t have to agree.
And we are able to put up with our differences if we just set our minds toward Christ:
Philippians 2:6 NRSV
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
If you or I take a moment to humble ourselves in the way we hold our opinions - and consider how Jesus lead us in humility we might learn something from those who disagree with us.
We don’t have to be right all the time.
But we can agree about some basic principles - grace, love and the goodness of God.

Having the Same Love

Philippians 2:2 NRSV
2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
So step one toward understanding what kind of Christian community Paul dreamed of - is understanding that we should have the same mental attitude of humility.
The second priority - or characteristic of a helpful and Christ following Christian community is to have ‘the same love’.
We’re always interested in those Greek words for love - in this case the word is:

25.43 ἀγαπάωa; ἀγάπηa, ης f: to have love for someone or something, based on sincere appreciation and high regard—‘to love, to regard with affection, loving concern, love.

The part of this definition of this kind of love that I like so much is the idea that it is based on sincere appreciation and high regard.
Paul is a strange guy - he sings hymns when he is in prison.
On one occasion after singing hymns the prison falls apart in an earthquake and Paul doesn’t escape - but rather leads his prison guard to faith in the Lord.
He could easily have decided this guy was his enemy.
He could have resented the guard’s position as one keeping him in chains.
But instead - he humbles himself enough to look at the guard with the highest regard - he doesn’t take advantage of the position he is in.
And God’s grace triumphs.
We point to a Christ like attitude again:
Philippians 2:8 NRSV
8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
How can I have a Christ like love for my family - for my coworkers for my bosses.... and even for my enemies?
I just want us to be mindful in this that the ‘same love’ and ‘same mind’ that Paul speaks of is not some pretence of unity based on conformity to one standard / one doctrine / one idea.
But rather it is a unity based on one attitude - one life philosophy - and that philosophy is found and grounded in the example of Christ.
Based in humility.
Based in mutual respect and high regard.
If I have high regard for you - then I accept that your opinions and disagreements with me are valid.
And you do the same for me.
And then we’re able to go together with one mind.

Being in full Accord

Finally in this verse - we are invited to be in ‘full accord’ or as Eugene Petersen interprets it in the message:
Philippians 2:2 MSG
2 then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.

Be deep-spirited friends.

The word that Eugene Petersen and the NRSV are interpreting as being in full accord and being deep-spirited friends explains itself better in Greek...
Sym-Psychoi
Sym - meaning ‘together’ and Psychoi - meaning soul or mind.
I guess there would be another way of making up this word that appears here in Greek and that would be to use a prefix like syn - with an N for Nelson instead of an M for Mandela...
Syn means we’re one - we have combined - we are synchronised, synthetic that sort of thing.
But Sym - with an M for Mandela doesn’t imply an artificial unity - it implies something deeper - implying a deep mutual understanding.
Like ‘Sympathetic’ - ‘Sympathy’
Or ‘Symbiotic’.
Mutually benefitting from our differences rather than our agreements.
So - this short devotion on Philippians 2:2 - in Summary:

Summary

Philippians 2:2 IBHAYIBHILE:B1996T
2 ngoko ke ndaneliseni nindivuyise ngokuba nibe banye ngezimvo nangothando, nibanye ngengqondo, nizamela ukuba nibe yimbumba yamanyama.
--
Philippians 2:2 LEB
2 complete my joy, so that you are in agreement, having the same love, united in spirit, having one purpose.
First - Paul’s joy in prison - imagining a church that loves each other by -

1 - Be of the same mind. Hold your opinions with conviction but not with pride.

2 - Have the Same Love. A love based on sincere appreciation and high regard.

3 - Be in Full Accord. Let our differences be blessings.

Matthew 21

Matthew 21:28–29 NRSV
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went.
To conclude - In Matthew 21 Jesus is confronted by the leaders of the Jews of his day - they came asking:
Matthew 21:23 (NRSV)
23 - “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
The purpose was to get Jesus wrapped up in a Theological argument. Jesus illustration...
Matthew 21:28–29 NRSV
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went.
I think it is a way of saying that what we confess is not as important as what we do.
And another word from Jesus on this:
John 13:35 NRSV
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
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