Philippians 2:1 starts out with several “if” statements. While the word “if” may create doubt, Paul didn’t mean it in that way. The meaning of “if” is better interpreted as saying “since” or “assuming.” So, you could actually read Philippians 2:1 as this:
Since you have encouragement from being united with Christ, assuming comfort from his love, assuming fellowship with the Spirit, since [you’ve experienced] tenderness and compassion…”
Paul assumes the Philippian community has experienced encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness and compassion from Jesus as a result of their individual relationships with Jesus.
And experiencing those things individually should lead to a certain unity as believers. Specific fruit should abound from a community of believers who have encountered love, comfort and fellowship with Jesus.
Paul identifies exactly what that fruit should look like in Philippians 2:2:
- Be like-minded
- Have the same love
- Be one in spirit
- Be one in purpose
Paul then drills down even further on how that fruit should demonstrate itself (in Philippians 2:3-4) by doing nothing out of selfish ambition but instead considering others better than yourself.
Phew! What a directive Paul has laid out before the Philippians! I would venture to say that verses 3-4 are not things that come naturally to us.
This Scripture convicts me in my current season of motherhood as I often want to steal away in order to do what I want to do. But this Scripture redirects me; it reminds me of a better way to live.
Friends, when you are constantly reflecting on the outpouring of encouragement, love and compassion you receive from your Savior, it should overflow from us as individuals and Christians communities in the form of considering others’ interests before our own.
It’s in that place of humility that we can understand more and more what it looks like to live like Christ and see the beautiful fruit of Christian unity.