Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2: 1-4)
Many people - even Christians - live only to make a good impression on others or to please themselves. But "selfish ambition or vain conceit" brings discord. Paul therefore stressed spiritual unity, asking the Philippians to love one another and to be one in spirit and purpose. When we work together, caring for the problems of others as if they were our problems, we demonstrate Christ's example of putting others first, and we experience unity. Don't be so concerned about making a good impression or meeting your own needs that you strain relationships in God's family.
The Philippians’ biggest battle was not with their external circumstances but with those internal attitudes that destroy unity. Paul had demonstrated his own refusal to let external circumstances control his attitudes (Philippians 1:12–18). In Philippians 2:1, the "therefore" ties together his conflict and their conflict. The conditional clauses in this verse indicate certainties, not “maybes.” Each "if" here expresses the idea of “since,” and each following clause may be considered to be true. Scripture teaches that our fellowship is not only with God the Holy Spirit as seen here, but also with God the Father (1 John 1:3) and God the Son (1 Cor. 1:9; 1 John 1:3), as well as with other Christians (1 John 1:7). The Greek term for "mercy" means compassionate desires that develop in response to a situation and that stimulate a person to meet recognized needs in that situation.
In Philippians 2:2, the Apostle Paul sets forth a fourfold appeal, an appeal that expresses one major idea—namely the unity of the church.
like-minded: This expresses Paul’s concern for humility (Philippians 4:2). Paul illustrates this attitude in Philippians 2:3, 4 and then describes the greatest example of humility, Jesus Christ Himself, in Philippians 2:5–8.
same love: Philippians 1:9.
one accord: Paul here is stressing a unity of spirit between Christians (Palms. 133), literally “a togetherness of soul.”
one mind: The words Paul uses to indicate one mind are virtually identical to the words translated like-minded earlier in this verse. Paul was strongly emphasizing the unity that should exist between believers and how they must single-mindedly strive together to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Selfish ambition can ruin a church, but genuine humility can build it. Being humble involves having a true perspective about ourselves (Romans 12:3). It does not mean that we should put ourselves down. Before God, we are sinners, saved only by God's grace, but we are saved and therefore have great worth in God's kingdom. We are to lay aside selfishness and treat others with respect and common courtesy. Considering other's interests as more important than our own links us with Christ, who was a true example of humility?
In Philippians 2:3, the Apostle Paul attempts to correct any misunderstanding that may arise from what he said earlier in the letter about some preaching out of selfish motives (Philippians 1:15, 16). He was concerned that someone might think he was condoning selfish ambition, so long as the gospel was being preached.
conceit: Paul uses a Greek term meaning “empty pride,” or “groundless self-esteem.” Pride should not be a Christian’s motivation; instead everything should be done in the power of the Holy Spirit.
lowliness of mind: The Greek word suggests a deep sense of humility. Although the pagan writers used the word negatively, in effect to mean abjectness or groveling, Paul did not. What Paul was calling for was an honest evaluation of one’s own nature. Such an evaluation should always lead to a glorification of Christ. For without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
let each esteem: This verb indicates a thorough analysis of the facts in order to reach a correct conclusion about the matter. In other words, each Philippian Christian was to properly assess himself or herself. Such an assessment would lead to valuing others.
others better than himself: The honest self-examination that Paul was calling for leads to true humility. This enables a person to hold others above himself or herself, to value people over material possessions or personal plans.
Philippi was a cosmopolitan city. The composition of the church reflected great diversity, with people from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life. Acts 16 gives us some indication of the diverse makeup of this church. The church included Lydia, a Jewish convert from Asia and a wealthy businesswoman (Acts 16:14); the slave girl (Acts 16:16, 17), probably a native Greek; and the jailer serving this colony of the empire, probably a Roman (Acts 16:25-36). With so many different backgrounds among the members, unity must have been difficult to maintain. Although there is no evidence of division in the church, its unity had to be safeguarded (Philippians 3:2; 4:2). Paul encourages us to guard against any selfishness, prejudice, or jealousy that might lead to dissension. Showing genuine interest in others is a positive step forward in maintaining unity among believers.
In the Christian churches today there is a lack of unity among believers. All churches where Jesus is the Head should strive to fulfill the Apostle Paul's joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, and of one mind. Would the church that you attend bring joy to the Apostle Paul?
References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), the Nelson Study Bible.