Elder Vernon Johnson


Philippians 2:1-4

1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others

in this section of the letter to the church at Philippi Paul describes some of the characteristics that a disciple and church should have to be good servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. He sets forth the foundation for these qualities or characteristics on the things that we have experienced as children of God and disciples of Jesus Christ:

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies…

As born-again children of God and disciples of Jesus Christ we have experienced the "consolation in Christ." The gospel of Jesus Christ told us that we had been redeemed from our sins by the finished work of Jesus Christ. The gospel also comforted us by teaching us that we do not have to do anything to be born of the Spirit or to be saved from our sins, but God through his grace has already done this for us. Furthermore, we are comforted in our personal lives by the scriptures and the leadership of the Holy Ghost. The gospel also comforts us from trying to get right with God by telling us that God has already made us right with him.

The love of God shed abroad in our heart is a great comfort to us. It comforts us in the midst of trials, troubles, tribulations and persecutions. It comforts us when we lose love ones. It comforts us when we face the valley of the shadow of death.

The fellowship of the Spirit is a great blessing to each of us. We experience this fellowship of the Spirit in the preaching of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. We experience it also when we are studying the word of God and meditating on the word and the things of God. In addition, we experience this fellowship of the Spirit when we are at a throne of grace. When we have godly conversations with fellow disciples or with sincere seekers of the truth, we have the fellowship of the Spirit.

The word, "bowels," comes from a Greek word meaning "inward affections." The inward affections we have towards God and his people stems from the love, grace, and mercy of God towards us. Further, there are many scriptures that speak of God's tender mercies towards his children. Psalms 69:16 seems to sum up the thought of God's mercies towards his children: "Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies."

Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

This sentence contains at least three characteristics or qualities that the disciples of Christ should possess under the umbrella of being "likeminded." The three characteristics are:

        1. having the same love
        2. being of one accord
        3. of one mind.

The Greek word for "love" in this verse is "agape" and means the love of God in action. Thus, for us to have the same love, we must have already been born of the Spirit (love is a part of the fruit of the Spirit), and we must be actively engaging that love one to another. The Lord said in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." We manifest this godly characteristic or attribute when all the congregation is actively laying down their lives for one another.

Next, we are to be of one accord. The Greek word for accord is "sumsuchos" meaning co-spirited or similar in sentiment. This assumes that all parties are motivated by the Spirit of God dwelling within them. Sometimes peoples motives are impure. Some people are motivated by gain. Some are motivated by jealousy. Some are motivated by popular opinion. There are a lot of things that motivate people. We should all be on our knees asking God to direct our motives and our minds. It is necessary that we be of one accord if we are to be likeminded.

Finally, we must be of one mind. If I am of one mind and you are of another mind, then we obviously are not of one mind. Amos asked the question in Amos 3:3 "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Agreement is necessary to walk together. However, if you believe in something that is wrong and I agree in something that is wrong, we may walk together, but we are both wrong. To be of one mind in the above scripture is teaching us that we are agreed together in the truth. To be agreed together in the truth, then we must know and believe the truth. When we both know and believe the truth, then we are of one mind in the truth. To be likeminded, we all must know and believe the truth and desire to manifest the truth in our lives.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory…

Strife and vainglory or negative characteristics that we are to avoid as the disciples of Jesus Christ. Paul said "let nothing be done…" The key word is "nothing." It excludes everything. Thus, we are not to do anything through strife or vainglory. There are no exceptions because of the use of the word, "nothing." Whatever we do either as a church body or as a disciple of Christ is to be done without strife or vainglory. The Greek word for strife used here is "eritheia" and means "fractioning by being contentious." We are to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Also, 2 Tim. 2:24-26 tells us "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."

The Greek word for vainglory is "kenodoxia" and means "empty glory or self-conceit." If what I do is done to puff myself up or to promote myself or to further my own ambition, then I am doing it for vainglory. What we do in the church is to be done out of humility and not of selfishness.

"But in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." "Lowliness of mean" indicates that we are to be humble-minded. That is we are not to be exalted in our own opinion of ourselves. The following verses of scripture reinforce this principle:

    1. Acts 20:19 "Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:"

    2. Rom. 12:3 "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."

    3. Col. 3:12 "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;"

    4. 1 Pet. 5:5 "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."

In humility of mind we are to "esteem" or value others more highly than we value ourselves. Paul illustrated that to us in his personal valuation of himself:

    1. 1 Tim. 1:15 "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."

    2. 1 Cor. 15:9 "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."

    3. Eph. 3:8 "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

When it comes to the service of God, each of us has our own service to perform before God in serving our brothers and sisters. One thing helped me discover the meaning of this verse of scripture. This thing was the word, "also." This verse is not telling not to give attention to and effort to our service, but it is telling us that each member of the congregation has a service to perform. By looking also on the service that others have to perform, praying that the Lord will bless their service as well as ours, and assisting them in their service as we have opportunity, we are unselfishly working for the benefit of the service of the entire congregation.