Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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      Philippians - Chapter 02 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. Christ encourages you, and his love comforts you. God's Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others.
    2. Now make me completely happy! Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person.
    3. Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves.
    4. Care about them as much as you care about yourselves
    5. and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought:
    6. Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God.
    7. Instead he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us.
    8. Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross.
    9. Then God gave Christ the highest place and honored his name above all others.
    10. So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
    11. And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, "Jesus Christ is Lord!"
    12. My dear friends, you always obeyed when I was with you. Now that I am away, you should obey even more. So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved.
    13. God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him.
    14. Do everything without grumbling or arguing.
    15. Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world,
    16. as you hold firmly to the message that gives life. Then on the day when Christ returns, I can take pride in you. I can also know that my work and efforts were not useless.
    17. Your faith in the Lord and your service are like a sacrifice offered to him. And my own blood may have to be poured out with the sacrifice. If this happens, I will be glad and rejoice with you.
    18. In the same way, you should be glad and rejoice with me.
    19. I want to be encouraged by news about you. So I hope the Lord Jesus will soon let me send Timothy to you.
    20. I don't have anyone else who cares about you as much as he does.
    21. The others think only about what interests them and not about what concerns Christ Jesus.
    22. But you know what kind of person Timothy is. He has worked with me like a son in spreading the good news.
    23. I hope to send him to you, as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me.
    24. And I feel sure that the Lord will also let me come soon.
    25. I think I ought to send my dear friend Epaphroditus back to you. He is a follower and a worker and a soldier of the Lord, just as I am. You sent him to look after me,
    26. but now he is eager to see you. He is worried, because you heard he was sick.
    27. In fact, he was very sick and almost died. But God was kind to him, and also to me, and he kept me from being burdened down with sorrow.
    28. Now I am more eager than ever to send Epaphroditus back again. You will be glad to see him, and I won't have to worry any longer.
    29. Be sure to give him a cheerful welcome, just as people who serve the Lord deserve.
    30. He almost died working for Christ, and he risked his own life to do for me what you could not.
Reflections

Philippians - Chapter 02

Entered: November 16, 2005
[REFER TO CHAPTER 1]

Entered: December 20, 2011

In the reflections for chapter one I stated that the Philippians were a more spiritually mature group than some of the other churches to whom Paul wrote. Even so, they were not without their faults, nor are any of us. A fault Paul addressed in chapter two was that of selfishness. In particular, those guilty of this fault focused more on themselves than on others. If individuals are focused more on themselves than on others they will not have a love for the same things, their thinking will be divided, and they will not have a common purpose. Neither of these is possible because their love and thoughts and purpose are more on themselves. There can be no commonality in these things. Thus, Paul encouraged them to bring him joy by "thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal." (2:2) Their self-centeredness was leading instead to rivalry.

Rather than conceit Paul admonished them to have humility. Actions motivated from conceit lead to rivalry. Those from humility lead to considering "others as more important than yourselves." (2:3) A common idea of humility is to refrain from speaking too highly or too much of oneself. This tends to be a false humility, though. Paul defined humility as considering "others as more important than yourselves." This is very different than refraining from boasting. It changes not only our selfish actions but also our selfish attitude.

The truest example of humility is Christ. If anyone ever had a reason to think more highly of themselves than of others, it was the One who was and is equal with God. But rather than using this to His own advantage, Christ "emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men." (2:7) And it went further. His humility extended to the "point of death - even death on a cross," considering the needs of others more important than His own life. If one wishes to be exalted, let it come from God who will exalt them for their humility toward others rather than from self exaltation. But Christ, who is the supreme example of humility, will also be supremely exalted to the point that one day, "every knee should bow--of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth--and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (2:10-11)

In addition to his admonishment toward humility, Paul further admonished them to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Notice he did not say "work FOR your salvation," but "work OUT your salvation." This is another way of telling them to put their salvation into action. Through God's enabling, they will both "will" and "act" for "His good purpose."