Leap of Faith Episode 17: Philippians 2 – Encouragement, Humility, and Unity

Mini-Yo-We

Hello Hello! I hope you had a great family day.

We had fun up here at the Camp Mini-Yo-We Family Day Event. Thank you to our summer team members who came up and volunteered with us. We loved having you and you made a big difference.

We are continuing our study of the book of Philippians today. Last week, we started out by looking at a few key ideas in chapter one and today we are going to continue forward into chapter two. 

Remember we are using a method of study that asks us to engage in observation, interpretation, and finally application. We talked about that process throughout January so if you want to learn more jump back a few episodes and check it out.

Today, we are jumping into chapter 2 and really looking at one big IF. And where there is an IF there is a THEN. IF blank THEN blank. This sort of logic is central to our lives (even if we don’t always realize it). The “If-then” statement is one of the foundational concepts of coding. That is to say that our phones, computers, and the broad range of technology that we use rely on “if-then” statements to help make our devices work. At the most basic level, the light switch on our wall is an if-then in action. If the switch is set to “off” then the light is off. This statement in itself gives us all the information we need to know about the light. Because it is equally true if the switch is not set to “off” then the light is on. 

The if-then statement is meant to identify two states of being. If one thing is true than another is also true and by extension, if one thing is false than the other cannot still be true. 

All of this is the sort of reasoning at the centre of what Paul is writing to the church in Philippi here in chapter 2. He offers one big IF-THEN statement and then talks about the THEN for almost the whole chapter.

Here it is (in chapter 2:1-2):

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

Now the IF is clear but the THEN is missing (and only implied). Let’s break it down into the two halves.

If there is:

  • Any encouragement in Christ
  • Any comfort from love
  • Any participation in the Spirit
  • Any affection and sympathy.

Then complete my joy:

  • By being of the same mind
  • Having the same love
  • Being in full accord
  • Of one mind.

The argument Paul is making brings us back to one of the main themes of Philippians that we saw last week: unity. To say this all another way if you have experienced the goodness of Jesus then you must live up to that goodness. 

In other words, words from chapter one, we must live a life worthy of the gospel. And here we are beginning to be given a number of practical examples of that worthy life. In this case, I found three common themes in how that goodness is lived out: unity, humility, and encouragement. And these ideas make up a significant portion of what remains in this passage.

We see three examples of a person who lives in a manner worthy of the gospel. 

The first comes in Phil 2:1-11. The person of Jesus is offered as the primary example of what sort of living we should be striving toward. He is to be an encouragement to us in his willingness to humbly serve all the way from power to pain. From heaven to the cross. And all of this should be unifying.

Unity, humility, and encouragement.

Then Paul offers two other examples: one in Timothy and one in Epaphroditus. 

Timothy

Timothy, the young leader most famous for having a couple of letters in the Bible named after him and the biblical example of what a young leader can do, is in Paul’s description an excellent example of the encouragement, humility and unity that he has been talking about. He describes him saying: “I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” In essence, Timothy is a person who lives up to the IF-THEN statements that we started with. He knows Christ’s grace and chooses to live worthy of the gospel and seeks to encourage, unify, and acts humbly.

Epaphroditus

Epaphroditus is a familiar name to the people of Philippi. Paul references that he came from them and he is sending him back. Epaphroditus apparently came close to losing his life for the sake of the gospel. His service to Paul brought him to the brink of death Paul says “receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honour such people, for he nearly died for the work of Christ.” In other words, he is coming back to you having lived up to the calling and it is Paul’s hope that he can be the example of encouragement, humility, and unity that they need.

These observations and interpretations came from my slow reading of the passage and from reflecting on key phrases and ideas. But a final step remains application:

In this case, it almost seems too simple, but the application that struck me was a two-part question: 

First, have I received the good grace of Jesus, experienced his encouragement, lavished in his love, been set free by his Spirit? Have I experienced any of these things? 

And second, if I have am I living in a manner that reflects Christ in my life? Am I concerned with unity, am I serving humbly, and am I striving to encourage my fellow believers?

My hope is that for myself and for you that we can answer yes to the first question. My challenge is what am I doing to answer the second?

I want to encourage you to take some time this week to think about how you embody the grace that has been given to you in the person of Jesus with a simple exercise:

  1. Stop and take a moment, take serval moments, and think through (or write out) what you are specifically doing right now to emulate Jesus’ call to unity, to humility, and to encouraging others.
  2. Pray over this list. Listening for God’s call to step further into emulating Jesus.
  3. Ask yourself: how can step further into the calling to be a person of unity, humility and encouragement? (None of us are perfect and thankfully God doesn’t ask for perfection. But God is asking us to put forward our best effort. To be aware of where we can inject his light into a dark world.)
  4. Brainstorm some fresh ways you can emulate Jesus.
  5. Commit to three new ways of living like Jesus: one in unity, one in humility, and one in encouragement.
  6. Pray one last time for Christ to help bring the IF into focus so you can follow through with the THEN. We need Christ to inspire our lives to follow after him and as we step into unity, humility, and encouraging others we need his Spirit to empower us. 

And that’s it. I want to encourage you to take some time to really think about how you are living up to the gospel, to the grace you have experienced, and step out there and represent Jesus to your friends, your community, and beyond.

I don’t know about you but I am finding studying this book to be challenging to my own walk and my life. Your summer directors team is praying for you and we want to come alongside you however we can to support you as you become more Christlike. You can reach Jesse by email at jesse@miniyowe.com

Christ’s example of unity, humility, and encouragement is hard to follow. He went from full power and authority to a humble death on a cross. But the great thing is that we are not alone as we try to emulate him. And every day we get a chance to experience that loving grace is a chance to be inspired to live more Christlike.

I believe you and I think you are great. Keep being awesome.

This post is part of our Leap of Faith Audio Check-ins. We want to encourage you to leap into your faith and continue to grow at home, at school, and in your church. These audio check-ins are meant to encourage you as live out your faith every day. 

Want to keep growing?

There are more episode of Leap of Faith and other resources for you to grow in your leadership and faith here.