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“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:1-4
As these verses are my memory verses this month, one way to better learn these verses is to study their meaning and application! (If you’re interested in more tips on improving your memorization of verses, check out this post from Do Not Depart.) So, let’s take a look into these words…
In the first verse, we see components of life in Christ. If we profess faith in Christ we have this encouragement, comfort, and compassion. If we experience fellowship with earnest believers, we experience love and tenderness. Because we have these gifts, then we should be nodding in agreement with the apostle Paul and ready to fulfill the following verses.
The second verse shares what being a part of the body of Christ requires. We are to be like-minded in our thoughts, actions, and intentions. Like-minded believers share the same foundational purposes and attitudes, not necessarily the exact same actions. Because of that common foundation (the love of Christ), we are to give of that love.
Verses three and four show us exactly what giving that love looks like – nothing selfish, nothing in a prideful or conceited manner, nothing boastfully. Rather, full of humble love, placing others as the recipients of God’s love through us. If our hearts and minds are focused on Christ, we remain renewed to His love and will. If we continue faithfully loving Him, we desire to be like Him. If we imitate Christ because we love Him, we will humbly serve others above our own wants and even our needs.
A few words in verse four in other translations (including the ESV, HCSB, and the 1984 edition of NIV) also catch my attention, causing me to reread the verse. The end of the verse three into verse four says, “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not only looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” The newest NIV doesn’t have this word included, but many other translations do. What I gather from this sentence is that though we should focus on others, we can’t completely forget our basic needs. We are to be sure our necessities are met (food, rest, shelter) so that we may serve others well. As a (happily) busy momma, I need this reminder often!
Though these four verses are those I hope to memorize by the end of the month, the context around these verses pounds truth in my heart. All of the directions and truths found in these four verses are written keeping focus on what is found in verses 5-11. All of this unity of spirit, body, and mind, all of this humble servitude and loving action occurs because Christ first exemplified it for us. Christ “made himself nothing by taking the very nature