Last week, while reading in Philippians, chapters 1 and 2, a repeated phrase by Paul brought one word to mind—unity. In a few verses, he mentions (or implies) being of the same spirit and of one mind. Let’s have a look at these verses.
In chapter 1, verse 27, Paul says to the believers at Philippi, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” In verse 2 of chapter 2, he says, “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Paul then urges the believers to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit” (verse 3), but in humility he wanted them to count others more significant than themselves.
In verses 4 and 5, he says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”
Although we have these awesome words and commands written to us by Paul (ultimately given to us by God), probably more times than not, we fail to follow them. Why do I say this? I say this because, any day of the week, we can find believers arguing or debating over something; more often than not, it’s something petty—e.g., what foods one should or shouldn’t be eating, what hairstyle(s) one should or shouldn’t be wearing, what TV shows one should or shouldn’t watch, what translation of the Bible one should or shouldn’t read, etc.—which, I’m sure, grieves the heart of God, and which also does nothing to edify the body or compel unbelievers to come.
Now, does being of the same mind and spirit mean that we’ll all always agree on everything, or that we’re supposed to agree on everything? No. What it does mean is that when it comes to the things of God, like using our gifts and talents and serving others and teaching the message (and doctrines) of Christ, we’ll be on one accord, doing everything to the glory of God. As for the other matters, to paraphrase Matthew Henry’s words, we will (or we should) keep the unity of the Spirit in those differences. And it’s so important that we do so, because, in John 13:35, Jesus says to us that it’s our love for one another that will prove to the world that we are His disciples, not our foolish quarreling. (See also John 17:20-23.)
Sisters, we must understand that not everyone (even other believers) will agree with us on everything or see everything from the perspective that we do, but that’s not cause for fighting, hating one another, and turning our backs to each other. The best thing we can do when we differ greatly, to keep ourselves in alignment with God’s Word and will, is agree to disagree (because none of us are right 100% of the time anyway). Doing so won’t be the end of the world, and you’ll still have your sister.
That said, let each of us examine ourselves and our relationships. If we find that there are hard feelings within or disunity without regarding our sister(s), let us confess it, pray about it, and reunite, if we can, as quick as we can.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” – Paul, Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV)