by Steven Chan
The apostle Paul highlighted to the church in Philippi the following very important aspects of the Christian life:
“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God….Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Phil 1:27-28; 2:1-4)
1. We need to live our lives in a manner that is “worthy of the gospel”. In other words, we need to know what constitutes conduct that is “worthy of the gospel”. It implies that it is possible for Christians to conduct our lives in a manner that is not worthy of the gospel.
2. According to the Apostle Paul, the conduct (or manner of life) worthy of the gospel requires the following:-
a. That we be courageously and steadfastly striving together for the faith of the gospel, in one spirit and one mind.
Believers in Christ, being members of the Body of Christ, are required to “work together” for the gospel. God expects us to “work together”; not “apart from each other” or on our own. There is strength in working together. The Bible says in Eccl 4:9-12: “ Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
We need to work together for the faith of the gospel. We should not be distracted by other things.
We need to contend earnestly for the once for all delivered faith (Jude 3).
We need to be of one spirit and one mind in working together for the faith of the gospel. We cannot have different attitude and different thinking if we wish to work together. In Phil 2:2, Paul said that he would be filled with great joy if he hears that brethren are “being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind”.
When brethren have different mind-sets, there will be discord and lack of harmony in the church and God’s work cannot be done effectively.
b. That we ensure that our motive for doing the work should not be from “selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself”.
Even though we may all be working for the faith of the gospel, we need to careful that it is not being done from “strife and vainglory” – in other words, do we do it in such a way that it will cause or result in “strife” or factions or divisions among brethren? Don’t do it out of the desire to seek personal glory or self-righteous or arrogant attitude of self pride.
We should do God’s work with great humility, always considering others better than ourselves. Avoid being boastful, thinking that we have done so much while others have done so little, or we have achieved so much while others have achieved very little (remember the prayer of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18:9-14). The devil will pounce on the one puffed up with pride and use it to cause strife and for brethren to fall (I Cor 10:12). “When pride comes, then comes shame”( Prov 11:2). Over the years, we have witnessed some Christians who used to labour zealously in the church but have succumbed to their pride and fallen into the snare of the devil (2 Tim 2:23-26). No wonder the apostle Peter warned: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
c. That each of us looks out not only for our own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
In commending Timothy as his fellow-worker in the kingdom, the apostle Paul said in Phil 2:20-21: “For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.”
We must be like-minded and be genuinely concerned for the well-being of our brethren – both spiritually and materially. We must also be like-minded to seek the things pertaining to Jesus and His church.
We must not be focused only on our own personal interests and well-being. Jesus was willing to come down from heaven, clothed Himself with humility and offered Himself as a sacrifice for our eternal benefit and well-being. Likewise, we need to look out for the interests of our brethren and assist them for their best interests.
3. Brethren, we need to be “like-minded”: having “the same spirit, same love” and being of “one mind and one accord” to “work together” boldly & steadfastly for the faith of the gospel.
a. Let each of us resolve to be “like-minded” to commit ourselves to win at least one soul to Christ within the next 12 months and to also work with fellow brethren to help them do likewise. Soul-winning is the marching order of our Lord Jesus to all Christians (Matt 28:18-20) and was the primary consideration for how Paul lived his life: “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel…I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”(1 Cor 9:16, 19, 22). We should work together as Paul did with Apollos and God Himself (I Cor 3:5-9) and by setting for ourselves the goal of winning at least one soul each for Christ within the next 12 months.
b. Let each of us resolve to be like-minded and commit ourselves to attend every service of the church (i.e. the Bible Class on Fridays and Sundays as well as the Worship service on Sundays) and to also help and encourage fellow brethren to do likewise.
Our personal attendance at our agreed times of coming together as a church is an indicator of our level of spirituality and commitment. The Bible exhorts us:
”And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”(Heb 10:24-25)
We disobey the exhortation of the Scriptures when we absent ourselves from our assemblies. We need to come together in order to encourage one another unto further love and good works. Our absence will discourage fellow brethren who make every effort to attend these services. On the other hand, our attendance would encourage brethren to keep on keeping on in loving each other, continuing the good works and being edified and spiritually uplifted as we praise God together, pray for one another, study God’s Word together and have fellowship with one another – just like the first century Christians in Acts 2:42-47.
c. Let each of us resolve to be an active Bible student and to help fellow brethren do the same.
The Bible expects Christians to grow in our faith (as well as in grace and knowledge – 2 Pet 3:18) so that we attain maturity:
”till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ-“( Eph 4:13-15)
The Bible says: “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”(1 Peter 2:2-3)
God expects every Christian to grow so that we can all attain the level of being teachers of God’s word, and not remain as spiritual babes still needing to be taught the elementary principles of the oracles of God (Heb 5:11-6:3). The Bible says: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God” (Heb 5:12) and you are “unskilled in the word of righteousness” (Heb 5:13).
Let’s resolve to study the Bible as it is God’s food for our spiritual life (Matt 4:4). Let’s resolve to study and meditate upon God’s Word on a daily basis (Psalms 1). Let’s resolve to study God’s Word and prepare ourselves well for the weekly Bible classes so that we can contribute and share with fellow brethren our joy in understanding His Word. Please bring your Bibles and your notebooks to every Bible class. Unless you are blessed with a photographic memory, it will be good to write down notes of what you have learned in Bible class to help you remember and also for your further studies.
4. As we resolve to be like-minded and work together for the faith of the gospel, may “our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16). “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”(1 Cor 10:31-33).
The Bible assures that our work together will not be in vain: ”Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”( 1 Cor 15:58)
We look forward to being more like-minded and working more closely with one another in God’s kingdom and be a Growing and God-glorifying church.