Speaking the Truth in Love

The Attitude of Christ

Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, established the Philippian church on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:12-40). Apparently, most of the new converts were non-Jewish. The absence of a synagogue in the city (v. 13) indicated that few Jews lived in the area. In addition, the names of the Philippians mentioned in Paul’s letter to the church (Epaphroditus, Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement) pointed to a predominantly Gentile congregation.

The city Philippi was a Roman military colony (Acts 16:12). Its citizens enjoyed the same privileges and rights as if their land were in Italy itself. Civic pride spilled over into the Philippian church and caused disunity. Paul received financial assistance from the congregation during his Roman imprisonment (Phil. 4:10-12), and in his letter he expressed his thanks for the generosity. But he gently rebuked his brothers and sisters for failing to live and work together in harmony.

The Philippians needed to humble themselves. Paul said that a Christian’s “attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Phil. 1:5-7, NIV). Jesus was fully God. He enjoyed all the splendor and glory of heaven. But he voluntarily gave up his exalted position to serve others, and even died on a shameful Roman cross for us (v. 8).

When disciples adopt their Savior’s humble attitude, peace reigns in the church. It was this unity that Paul longed for when he appealed to the Philippians. “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit,” he wrote, “but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).

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