Be of the Same Mind

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Be of the Same Mind

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Philippians 4:1-3




          Tonight we continue our study from Philippians.   This is a letter of Paul, likely written from prison in Rome, in which Paul encourages these brethren to joyfully endure, even in the face of trials. Paul has put himself forth as an example worthy of imitation in these things.

Previously, we have addressed our need to forget those things behind and press on toward the goal. In our last lesson we addressed our citizenship which is in heaven which gives us cause to endure. Tonight, we pick up with some more of Paul’s personal admonitions to these brethren. As we have noted all along, this is a very personal letter, yet it is a gold mine of lessons for us to apply. Tonight we are introduced to some of the members of the church of Christ at Philippi, and a problem we can learn from.

  1.   A call for unity – the context
    1. Recall vs. 1 – In our last lesson, we concluded with this verse.   I believe it is a fitting ending to the encouragement we all need to “so stand fast in the Lord” – DON’T QUIT!
      However, in this verse we also find Paul begins his conclusion by describing what these brethren meant to him. Vs. 1 is so rich in describing brotherly relationship
    2. Beloved – a derivative of the word for Christian love (ἀγαπητοὶ, agapētoi).   The word pertains to one who is dearly loved or cherished.
    3. Longed-for – Paul missed them and desired to see them again.   Anyone who is away from family understands this.   Earlier, Paul had mentioned Epaphroditus – likely their messenger sent to Paul, who longed to see these brethren (Philippians 2:26).   As Christians, if our perspective of this live and our eternal citizenship are understood, we long for heaven.
    4. Brethren – a reminder of our relationship to one another.   As we deal with one another, we must ALWAYS remind ourselves that we are together God’s family (cf. John 13:34-35, 1 Peter 3:8)
    5. My joy – these brethren were a source of happiness and pleasant thoughts to him.
    6. My crown – a victors crown. In other places, Paul addressed this victor’s crown as our eternal reward (1 Corinthians 9:25, 2 Timothy 4:8, also James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, etc.).
      Here, his brethren are the source of this victory – thus Paul is addressing how much he cherishes them and what they mean to him.   Brethren were his life and purpose for going on – cf. Philippians 1:24-25). Consider 1 Thessalonians 2:19 which ties these together.
      The point – as Paul addresses these dear brethren, he wants them to know how much they do mean to him. And these qualities would be lead into what Paul says next.
  2. One of the themes Paul has addressed in this letter is unity
    1. Philippians 1:27 – Paul desired to hear that they stood fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the gospel
    2. Philippians 2:2 – be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind…
    3. In our current text, we have a specific application
  3. Here Paul mentions a specific rift between Euodia and Syntyche – we do not know anything about these women other than what this text says.
    1. Paul used EQUAL terminology for each of them – I “implore” (plead, to earnestly entreat).; It is interesting that the actual word is used often and can include the idea of standing by one’s side. Paul is saying “I call you side by side”.
    2. Be of the same mind in the Lord – he calls for unity. This very likely was NOT doctrinal disunity.   If it were Paul would be advocating for the truth, as he often did.
      Some use this passage to justify “unity in diversity”, but that is NOT what we have here. There is NOTHING to indicate they believed differently.   In fact, the wording used in the text seems to indicate otherwise.
    3. Help these women – Paul mentions a “true companion”.   Because of the context, some believe this might have actually been a proper name (σύζυγε, syzyge), a word that means, a “yoke-fellow”.   Regardless, Paul is concerned about these women and wants someone to intervene.
    4. Who labored with me in the gospel – Paul has high regard for these women, noting their accomplishments.   They have worked with Paul in the gospel.   Some use this to advocate women preachers, but that is NOT the necessary inference of the text.   AND it conflicts with numerous other passages of scripture (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, 1 Timothy 2:11-15, 1 Peter 3:1-3, etc.).   There are many ways to labor in the gospel without publicly preaching – supporting the preaching of the gospel, teaching WITHIN prescribed boundaries (e.g. Titus 2:3-5, 2 Timothy 1:3, 3:15, etc.), doing things behind the scene, etc.
    5. Along with Clement and the rest of his fellow workers – we are all working together (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Ephesians 4:16, etc.)
    6. Whose names are written in the book of life – this is WHAT ought to bring us together.   We are among the saved.
  4.   Dealing with disunity
    1. There are two different types of disunity – doctrinal and personality.   While dealing with them involves similar elements and attitudes, they are different.
      When it comes to doctrinal matters – we must sit down and study God’s word seeking understanding and agreement – see Philippians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 1:10, John 17:20-21).   EVEN if we are determining whether or not something is a matter of personal judgment doctrinally (cf. Romans 14), we strive to resolve that such is the case.
      THEN, there is personality clashes.   Right or wrong, these things happen.   People think differently, have different mannerisms and personalities. Sometimes these clash. How do we deal with these? I believe that is the approach of this text.
    2. In our text notice what was done
      1. First, Paul appealed to their brotherhood – vs. 1.   We need to be a family and find brotherhood.   It is simply not an option!
      2. Deal with it – I implore Euodia and Syntyche – Paul did ignore it.   Ignoring such things will NOT resolve them, and usually makes matters worse.  Matthew 18:15-18 – YOU GO! See also Matthew 5:23-24.
      3. Realize what God expects – we MUST strive to get along.   Paul said, “Be of the same mind”
        Seek to understand why and where we are different.   Work to make your differences work together.   Let them bring the good out in us.
        Romans 15:1 – we bear with each other’s weaknesses; He expects us to practice brotherly love, patience, tolerance, self-sacrifice – Philippians 2:3-4, etc. James 3:13-18 contrasts the wisdom of this world with the wisdom from above.
        Galatians 5:13-15 – do not bite and devour one another.
        Give the benefit of the doubt and don’t assume what you don’t know to be true.
        AND you MUST be willing to sacrifice if necessary for the sake of unity.
      4. He appealed to what they had in common – they were both “in the Lord”; they had both labored with Paul in the gospel, and their names were in the book of life.
        We need to realize we are brethren and SHOULD have a common goal to get to heaven.
      5. Paul provided help – he appealed to others to step in and help them resolve these matters.
        This is a tenet of scripture.   We ought to be able to go to one another when we have problems.   We turn to our leaders (James 5:14-16).   Paul noted brethren taking each other to court – 1 Corinthians 6:5. He appealed that they turn to brethren to help them resolve their disputes.

And thus we see Paul dealing with brethren who had differences.   When God created the church, He created a perfect institution.   But then He put people in it.   We clash from time to time.   BUT, we can overcome these things if we ALL have the proper attitude.   That is what Paul wanted. He wanted there to be joy in their midst (see Philippians 4:4).   He realized the damage that even personality conflicts could have (cf. Romans 14:16). But he gives instructions we can all follow if we will.   What about you? Are you striving to be like-minded?   Think about it.