Redemption - The Motive For Godliness
In this chapter Paul urges us to seek and promote spiritual unity among God’s saints, love and affection for one another, and humility and lowliness of mind. He urges us to exercise genuine care and concern for one another’s happiness and welfare. The basis of appeal is the grace of God toward us in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Here and throughout the New Testament, believers are urged to godliness and obedience, not upon the basis of law, but upon the basis of grace. We are motivated and inspired, not by threats of punishment and promises of reward, but by gratitude and love to God because of the mercy, love, and grace we have received and experienced in Christ.
In verse one Paul gives us four arguments for unity, peace, and love in the Church of God among believers. If you and I belong to Christ, we love each other; and we ought to walk in and build upon that love. Here are four reasons: “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ” - The word “consolation” means “comfort” or “confidence.” If we have any genuine ground of hope, comfort, and confidence in Christ, founded and based upon his person, his righteousness, his death, and his intercession as our Substitute and Advocate before God, we ought to comfort one another and build one another up in the hope and confidence of the gospel. “If there be any comfort of love” - If we enjoy the comfort and strength of God’s love, the everlasting love of the Father, the redeeming love of the Son, the regenerating love of the Spirit, and the brotherly love of grace, we ought to give one another the strength and comfort of mutual love. “If any fellowship of the Spirit” - If we have been brought into fellowship with God and with one another by the Spirit of grace, we should constantly strive to maintain and build upon that blessed fellowship. “If any bowels and mercies” - If we have any real depth of affection, any real compassion and concern for Christ, his gospel, his glory, and one another, if our religion is real, if it is more than lip-service to God, let us show that love and concern to one another. If these things are not in us, if they do not flow from our hearts to the hearts and lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ, if we do not truly love God’s people, our religion is nothing but a vain show of hypocrisy! But if these things are in us, Paul says, “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (v. 2). Let all the family of God be likeminded in all things! Let us be likeminded, of the same mind, of one accord…in love, affection, and care…in unity, harmony, and peace…in mind, purpose, and desire! These are fruits and evidences of inward grace.
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." Anything that is done through strife dishonors God. Anything that divides brethren is a reproach to Christ. Anything that is born of contention casts a slur upon the gospel of the grace of God.
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." That simply means that the way to promote this unity and peace, this fellowship and love is to look out for and look after one another and quit looking out for yourself. Don’t seek your own praise. Seek someone else’s praise. Don’t promote yourself. Promote someone else. Don’t be concerned about your own feelings. Be concerned about your brother’s feelings and your sister’s feelings.
Upon what grounds can anyone make such an appeal? The Holy Spirit answers - "Let this mind be in you, (this loving, self-abasing, self-sacrificing mind!) which was also in Christ Jesus: (Our Lord thought not of himself, but of us. He served not himself, but us. He came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give his life a ransom for us!) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." If the Lord Jesus Christ so loved us, we ought, for Christ’s sake, so to love one another. “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted,forgiving one another,even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”