DAY 7 | PHILIPPIANS 2:1-4
Hey faithful readers, today I have a special treat for you… someone else! For the first time EVER on 30 Days Through Philippians, I’ve invited a guest poster. My friend and esteemed colleague, Stephanie Wakefield, will be leading you through Philippians 2:1-4. I, for one, can’t wait.
Hey friends! My name is Stephanie, but I mostly go by Steph. It’s shorter and easier to say, but I always feel the need to say my full name when introducing myself!
Here’s a picture of me with my morning coffee with one of my many mugs gifted to me-this one is from my brother-in-law, who knows Jeremy (my husband) and I love Parks and Rec. Now if only I had some waffles to go alongside my mug this morning…(IYKYK)
I’m a fifth-year staff member at CSF and have my hand in a few different things around the ministry. I am mostly behind the scenes planning, designing, writing or taking photos-and when I’m not doing that, I’m usually drinking coffee or petting my dog.
Derek asked me to be a guest writer for the Philippians study, so I wanted to share with you all a bit of how I do my quiet times and some takeaways for today’s passage, Philippians 2:1-4.
But before we do that, I wanted to share with you all a prayer I like to use to begin my quiet time. You may have heard of this book, as it’s making its way around our community and was mentioned by our good ole Texan friend, Matt Dampier, in his Bedtime with Brian takeover. It’s from a book called Every Moment Holy and it’s full of different prayers for almost every moment! One I particularly love is the Liturgy for the Ritual of Morning Coffee.
So get settled with your favorite mug of coffee, take a slow, deep breath, and begin with this prayer:
Meet Me, O Christ,
In the stillness of morning,
Move Me, O Spirit,
To quiet my heart,
Mend Me, O Father,
From yesterday’s harms.
From the discords of yesterday,
resurrect my peace.
From the discouragements of yesterday,
Resurrect my hope.
From the weariness of yesterday,
Resurrect my strength.
From the doubts of yesterday,
Resurrect my faith.
From the wounds of yesterday,
Resurrect my love.
Let me enter this new day,
Aware of my need,
To your grace,
Goodness, I love that prayer! Over the last few months, it’s helped to center my heart and mind as I sit down to meditate on scripture.
With that, let’s open our Bibles to Philippians.
Yesterday, we closed out chapter one of Philippians by reading Paul’s invitation (truly, Christ’s invitation) to live as citizens of heaven-to live by one Spirit and one accord. Today we see that invitation extended to us a bit more practically in the opening of Philippians 2.
1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:1-4, NIV)
Paul highlights two major themes here: unity and humility. He reminds us that Christ first showed us love and compassion, and now we’re invited to do the same to others as we live out our calling as citizens of Heaven-all of that begins with having a shared mindset.
When we have the mind of Christ, we think like Him which will inevitably lead us to act like Him. And when we are acting like him we are pleasing God. Jesus says “I always do what pleases my Father.” When we have the mind of Christ we are completing His mission, His purpose; we are ultimately fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28) therefore, making Christ’s joy complete!
When Christ’s joy is being made complete in us, it should lead us to an overflow to love others. However, we cannot do that if we’re first concerned with our own needs. This is why Paul warns us not to be consumed with thinking of ourselves-aka pride. Pride is one of the greatest enemies of joy. It feeds off of comparison, leading us to a life of constant striving and division. This can happen when we chase after our selfish ambitions, money, followers and other idols that distract us from our calling and we live as citizens of the world rather than citizens of Heaven. What would it look like if we shifted our focus toward others and their needs? What if it wasn’t about us anymore, but about the person to our right and our left? How might the world change if we thought of others more and ourselves less?
This is why Paul invites us to shift the focus off of ourselves and onto having the mind of Christ and to be unified in Him, by Him and for Him. Thankfully, this isn’t left up to us to do alone! We’ve been given the gift of the Holy Spirit-his role is to come and work in us and through us, and when we allow the Holy Spirt’s work to transform us, we’re renewed in our minds, enabling us to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:12)
It’s important to note that unity in of itself isn’t the end goal here, but rather a means to the end, to live out and spell out the Gospel of Jesus.
Normally, a sign of being unified as a church looks like showing up on a Sunday morning to learn and worship together corporately-our physical presence in the community reflects the oneness of mind that Paul is talking about here.
But now, we’re all at home during a global pandemic. So how do we stay unified as a church?
At this point, I think all of us are eager for the day that we get to gather again in person instead of on Zoom. But I think this season that we’re in reflects the longing that we have for our forever home in heaven. But until the day that Jesus comes back, we get to choose faithfulness.
And that still applies even now. So to stay unified at home, this looks like jumping on your church’s Zoom or Facebook Live Stream of your church service. Staying in the Scriptures and remaining steadfast in prayer. Continue these practices as routinely as possible to remain like-minded in Christ.
Once we have our minds centered and unified upon Christ, we can then love others from a place of security and humility.
Humility can often be misunderstood, which is why I love this quote from Rick Warren,
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
I know I used to get caught in the trap that in order to be humble, I had to have a low view of myself. That it was “humble” to tear down myself. I think we have all fallen into the trap before. But this insecure and incorrect view of humility isn’t humble at all-it’s actually still pride!
So what does it look like to not look out for our own interests, but to the interest of others?
One of the ways I have heard it explained before is that pride is a mirror, humility is a window.
When you look out into the world, do you see a mirror, reflecting your own selfish desires or self-criticism? Or do you see a window, that when you look out into the world, all you see is the others and their needs? You find your heart excited to love and care for the people you see
Paul knows of different divisions that happened across other churches and offers this passage as a warning to Philippians. He knows the tendencies of our human hearts, that we can easily fall away from these two virtues. So he reminds us to say unified and humbled, to love as Christ has loved so that we may have life and have it to the full! (John 10:10)
So what does a full life look like through this lens? It looks like taking a step back and asking God to highlight the people around you in your life and how to love them and put their needs ahead of your own.
Now, in the midst of a pandemic, that might seem more difficult. Since we can’t actually be in our communities, at our jobs, or even at CSF and other places, how do we put other’s needs above our own without leaving our homes? Living in humility doesn’t just apply when things are normal, but it’s a way of life that Christians are called to, especially in times of crisis.
Right now, this can look like a few things:
- Intercession-A few days ago, Derek mentioned making a list of people to pray for. Lifting others up in prayer is an incredible way of loving anyone from afar by praying for their needs. If you don’t know what to pray for, send them a text or give them a call to ask how you can be specifically praying for them right now!
- Speaking of calls-Call or Facetime a friend!-Don’t wait to be reached out to, be the first one to call your friends or loved ones. If you’d like to pray, even more, check out this list of people to pray for from Christianity Today.
- Love those you are quarantining with–“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.” I love this quote from Mother Teresa. So whether you chose to stay with your roommates in Lexington or head home to your family, look for little ways to love them. Maybe offer to do the dishes after a meal for everyone, let others choose the game or activity, etc. I know a student, Bailee, who chose to go home and be quarantined with her dad since he is immunocompromised. She wanted to stay in Lexington with her friends but chose to go home and be the errand runner so her dad wouldn’t have to go in public and risk his health. I love her heart to love and serve others and wanted to share this kind action of hers!
- Donate money-this is a great way to help others in need right now. If you’re able, consider making a donation to a local food bank (https://www.foodpantries.org/) or help fund medical supplies (https://give4cdcf.org/cdcf2020). This helps provide essentials and those who are considered essential workers at this time!
- Stay Home and Wash Your Hands-you’ve heard it a million times at this point I’m sure, but continuing to wash your hands and staying home may not seem like a lot, but continuing these practices really does help keep not only you safe, but helps keep everyone else safe in the community as well!
So, after today’s reading, we can see that unity and humility are a lot less about proximity and more about posture. When we set aside our own interests and prepare our hearts and minds to receive the love of Jesus and the transforming power of the Spirit, we are like-minded with God and his love for us that fills us with joy and overflows into our families, friends, and others!