Unity Through Humility (Philippians 2:1-4)
First Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 8:1-20
Second Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:1-30
Sermon Text: Philippians 2:1-4
In Philippians 1:27, Paul wrote that he desired to hear that the Philippians were “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” He wanted them to be united as a church—as believers in Christ. This unity, along with the other means God had granted, would help the Philippians endure the persecution and rejection they faced from unbelievers outside of the church. In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul continued his exhortation to unity, drawing upon the Philippians’ common beliefs and love for one another. There are indications throughout the letter to the church in Philippi that there were disagreements among church members, and Paul knew that if these disagreements were allowed to persist, they would end up affecting the whole church. A little leaven would leaven the whole lump. And so with a loving and pastoral tone, Paul explained the spiritual truth that unity is found through humility, and humility is found most beautifully in the example of Christ.
1. For review, read Philippians 1:27-30. In what sense is suffering a gift from God? How did the persecution of the early church lead to its strength and growth?
2. Read Philippians 2:1. Do you notice the trinitarian structure of this verse? What do we learn about church unity as we consider the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity?
3. What does church unity look like according to verse 2? Do you think our church is united? If the Apostle Paul became a member of our church, stayed for a few years, and then left on a long-term missionary journey, what kind of letter do you think he would write to us? What would he praise about our church? Would he say that we are united?
4. Read the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 26.1-2. What is the ground of our unity as believers according to section 1? What duties do we have toward one another according to section 2?
5. Read Philippians 2:3-4. What is “selfish ambition” and “conceit”? Why are these attitudes so dangerous to the church body? How does looking to Christ help us fight against these attitudes and cultivate humility?
6. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 2:11-22; and 1 Peter 2:9-10. What images do these passages use to describe the Church? How do these passages help to illustrate the importance of unity?
7. In preparation for next week, read Philippians 2:5-11. What do you think it means that Jesus “emptied himself ”? What do you think we can learn from Jesus’ humility?
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