Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. ~Philippians 2:3-4
Have you ever made a statement to someone and discovered you were both thinking the same thing? One of you probably said to the other, “Great minds think alike!” This phrase is a compliment and a means of indicating great synergy on a concept, idea, philosophy, or value. Paul was writing to the church at Philippi which started off as a loving, united church. While he was in prison at Rome, Paul received news that some members in the church were having personality conflicts. Several relationships were strained, and fellowship was broken. Paul was trying to get everyone back on the same page. He spoke about lowliness of mind. Let us see how Paul’s exhortation was for “great minds to think alike.”
We see the SOURCE of strife.
Strife occurs when we allow our pride, personality, or desire for advantage over someone else to get in the way of that relationship. We have friction between us and other people because we think we have been offended or hurt. In other cases, we might have gotten turned off because we perceive that the other person has committed vainglory. We are offended by the self-promotion of the other person. Strife among Christians in many cases is due to preference differences, and not doctrinal differences. Doctrine is the glue that holds us together. It is expected that all of us will have differences in our preferences. However, many preference differences can be worked out as long as we do not try to win over the other person. Let us remember that strife is a sin and does not honor God or help His church.
We see the SICKNESS from strife.
When there is strife, it always unveils a spiritual sickness in the people that are involved. Envy and jealousy are sicknesses that become evident. The Bible says that Saul eyed David from that day forward. The evil eye of jealousy warped Saul in his thinking, assumptions, and judgment. Bitterness is a sickness that becomes evident. Peter confronted Simon the sorcerer and told him that he was in the gall of bitterness and bondage of iniquity. Bitterness is a root that defiles many. Cain’s countenance dropped and was sullen when God told him his sacrifice of his garden vegetables was not acceptable, but that Abel’s blood sacrifice of a lamb of the first year was accepted. God told Cain, “If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” Cain was filled with bitter envy, rage, and wrath. In his wrath, he murdered his own brother. Strife poisons the heart, soul, and mind. Strife leaves a terrible wound in the body of Christ. Strife results in terrible sickness.
We see the SOLUTION for strife.
Paul told the believers to stop conducting themselves in strife and vainglory. They needed to put down “their swords.” They needed to stop proving they were right. Where there is strife, no one is right, and all parties are wrong. Vainglory is a self-righteous attitude that elevates the ego, and seeks only to make the other party look guilty without accepting any responsibility on our part. The church here needed to humble themselves and esteem the other person as being better. He referred to this as lowliness of mind. Who cares if I am right or wrong if the goal is restoration of fellowship and unity? Then, he said, “Let this mind be in you, as it was in Christ Jesus.” The mind of Christ was one of humility, serving others, and accepting the pain of being wrong even though he was not. Euodias and Syntyche were two women who were the focus of this great strife at Philippi. Paul admonished both of them to be of the same mind in the Lord. He was telling them that “great minds think alike.” This happens when both parties put on a spirit of meekness, put aside their differences, and agree that they will resolve their issues in a forgiving and restorative manner. Great minds think alike! They think like Jesus and take the high road. Resolve your conflicts in the mind of Christ, and be free of the heartache of contention.
Have a strife-free God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Exodus 25-27