Unity Through Humility — Lord’s Day 14
// February 15th, 2012 // Sermons
I want to start off tonight’s message with two quotes. They are kinda long but they are very powerful. My hope is that you will begin to understand the importance of the topic tonight.
A.W. Tozer says, “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified.”
The second quote is from Charles Spurgeon. He was the pastor of the largest church in the world in the 1800’s and a renowned theologian. He says this, “We must watch—the best of us must watch—lest we fight the Lord’s battles with Satan’s weapons and so even from love to God and His Truth violate the unity of the Spirit. The unity of the Spirit ought to be kept, dear Friends, because Satan is so busy to mar it. He knows that the greatest Glory of Christ will spring from the unity of His Church. ‘That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You. That they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that You have sent Me.’
There is no Church happiness where there is not Church unity. Let a Church be disaffected and divided, the schism in the body is death to all hallowed fellowship. We cannot enjoy communion with each other unless our hearts are one. Our work for God—how feebly it is done when we are not agreed! The enemy cannot desire a better ally than strife in the midst of our camp. ‘Can you not agree,’ said a warrior of old, ‘when your enemy is in sight?’ Christians, can you not agree to keep the unity of the Spirit when a destroying Satan is ever on the watch seeking to drag immortal souls down to perdition?
We must be more diligent in this matter! We must seek to purge out from ourselves everything which would divide and to have in our hearts every holy thought which would tend to unite us with our Brethren. I am not, when I join a Christian Church, to say, ‘I am quite certain I shall never break its unity.’ I am to suspect myself of a liability to that evil and I am to watch with all diligence that I keep the unity of the Spirit.”
Tonight we are going to talk about, what I think, is the key to church unity. If we can begin to live our lives this way, unity will flow from it. We must look the root cause of disunity and sever it. As you listen to the message tonight keep Spurgeon’s words in mind. You shouldn’t assume that you are not causing disunity in the church, or in this group, but you should always be watchful of your actions, making sure they are leading to unity rather than disunity.
Our passage tonight is Philippians 2:1-11. Here’s what it says,
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
As I read through this passage there are three sections in it. First, Paul talks of the things we should do and stop doing. Secondly, he gives us Jesus as the supreme example of these things. Then Thirdly, he shows us the result of a life truly lived in this way.
So, first, let’s take a look at verses 1-4. It says, “1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” As I read through this passage I feel Paul pushing a point with the Philippian church. As you look at this, you should notice that there is an “if” at the beginning. That means that this is an if/then clause, which means that if the first part is true then the second part should happen. While I think that is true in this case, I think Paul is taking a different angle. Paul knows that all of those if statements are true. He knows that there is encouragement in Christ, that there is comfort from love, that there is participation in the Spirit. So why all of the “if’s” if he knows these statements are true? Paul is using them as rhetorical questions. The answer is assumed. I think we could change the word “if” out for “since” and really get the point of what Paul is trying to say. “Since there is encouragement in Christ, Since there is comfort from love, Since there is participation in the Spirit, Since there is affection and sympathy, complete my joy.” They have all of these things in Christ and as a result Paul says “complete my joy”.
Paul goes on to say how they are to complete his joy. He says “…complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Do you hear the heart behind this? Paul wants this church to function as the body of Christ. He wants them to be unified. He wants them to have “the same mind,” “the same love,” be in “full accord,” and to have “one mind”. Paul’s joy is completed by their unity.
Paul goes on as to how they are to function in unity. He makes a bold statement, saying, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” How is this going in your life? Can you honestly say that you look at those around you as “more significant than yourself”? Take a look at your life and ask yourself if you are doing anything out of “selfish ambition of conceit”. I am going to bold enough to say that I know that some of you are acting this way. You take every opportunity you get to rip someone down so that you can look better. When someone makes a mistake, you attack them like a lion and beat them while they are down. You have no desire to see them as “more significant than yourself”. Your only desire is to make yourself look more significant than everyone else. This is the opposite of humility and the will never lead us to unity. It will continue to tear us apart and break us into small cliques that are ineffective and don’t promote unity within the body. Don’t assume this isn’t you. Look into your heart and ask God to reveal where you need to repent and ask forgiveness.
Paul goes on to say, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” I’m not going to dwell on this long but I do want to say this. Out of true humility will flow service. When you are truly seeing others as more significant than yourself, you will stop looking to your own interests. You will be looking to serve those around you. If you struggle with serving people in this youth group, it is very possible that you struggle with humility. When you are truly humble, you will desire to serve.
Now Paul points us to Jesus. He puts Jesus as the epitome of humility. If we truly live like Jesus, we will have unity. William Law said, “true church unity consists in our walking as Christ walked.” Here’s what Paul says about Jesus. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Paul gives us four areas of Jesus’ life that represent true, pure humility.
First, Jesus “did not count equality with God something to be grasped” which could be rephrased as saying that he gave up his rights. He didn’t operate out of what he was owed, but out of love. He didn’t feel the need for rivalry or conceit because it didn’t matter. Jesus had ultimate authority and ultimate power but didn’t consider it “something to be grasped”. Are you willing to give up your “rights” in order to serve/love someone else? Jesus’ life didn’t revolve around grasping for power or prestige. How about yours?
Second, He didn’t worry about building himself up or making himself look good in front of other people. He “made himself nothing”. What a tremendous, counter-cultural way to live. He made himself nothing so that others would be something. The goal of His life wasn’t to make himself look good, He wanted others to look good. He didn’t look out for his own interests but for the interest of others. What does your life look like? Are you trying to make everybody think your “something” rather than making yourself “nothing”? How much different would your life look if the focus changed? What if your goal was to make everyone else look better than yourself? What if you truly looked our “for the interest of others”?
Third, He took “the form of a servant.” Since He was looking out for the good of others, He was also serving them. One of the best ways to cultivate humility is to adopt an attitude of service. Stop being a servee and start being a server. Focus your life around being a servant to others. Focus your life around the needs of other peoples. This is our calling!
Fourth, He became “obedient.” Out of humility flows true obedience. Is there a difference between compliance and obedience? Compliance is doing what you should do even though you don’t want to do it, doing something begrudgingly. Obedience is doing something that you should do because you want to do it, doing something with passion and joy. Which one represents your faith? Do you attend church in compliance or obedience? Do you do your devotions out of compliance or obedience? Do you serve others out of compliance or obedience? Obedience requires a heart change, so PRAY!
Paul ends this passage by saying, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Because Jesus lived a life of humility, God exalted Him. We can hold to that promise as well, although it isn’t exactly the same. James says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” 1 Jesus also says, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”2 This counter-cultural, counter-intuitive way of life is what Christians are called to.
This is how we will have unity, how we will function as the body of Christ. We must humble ourselves, consider others in our group as more significant than yourself, think of the interest of others in our group, serve others in our group, do it all out of true obedience. When this happens our group will explode into a life changing ministry. We won’t only be changing the lives of people who show up on a Wednesday night but we change everyone we come into contact with. As Spurgeon said, “the greatest Glory of Christ will spring from the unity of His Church.” May we glorify Christ through the unity we have among ourselves.