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Improbable Joy – Philippians 2:1-4

Feb 4, 2024
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Philippians 2:1-4

Paul had just written about living our lives in unity with the gospel, and now he follows that with a call to live that unity with each other. Unity in the gospel isn’t the first something we produce. God gives it to us in Christ, and it is our job to foster and nurture that gift.

The “if” clauses that Paul uses to mean “since” or “this is true”. Paul’s goal was not to make us question these things but to remind us that they are present. Paul wrote in reality.

In verse 2, we see the only command in this portion, which is “complete my joy”. We do this by:

  1. Being of the same mind – to think
  2. Having the same love – unconditional love for another
  3. Being in full accord – one mindset
  4. And of one mind – to think

Unity is not uniformity. It doesn’t mean sameness, that we all believe all the same things about the same things, but at the heart, and in the end, there is a like-mindedness in what matters most – getting the gospel right and longing for it to advance.

Our minds shape our hearts which allows us to feel emotion which then manifests in our lives.

He goes on to say, “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves”. In the Greek culture humility was not a virtue to be desired. The Greeks really thought they were superior to everybody else in the world. It was a word used to describe slaves, so when Paul challenges the Philippians to live this way, it was a bold statement. In humility, we should think of the Imago Dei value in the other person, and we should try to understand their story and their needs.

“Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others.” Both are important. When we do this, there is unity because we rejoice when others rejoice and we grieve when others grieve. The path to joy is humility, and humility is the foundation to unity.


  1. How is humility perceived in our American culture?
  2. What are the challenges of walking in humility at work or school?
  3. If joy comes from a posture of humility, do you need to grow in humility? What areas?
  4. Who is someone you know that has a humble nature? What do you admire about them? How do they reflect the heart of Jesus?