all in

Philippians 2:1-13
For Sunday, September 28, 2008
Proper 21

I confess to occasionally having watched poker on TV. Let some lethargy here be at least partially redeemed. There are times in a poker game where a player decides to go “all in”. He puts all his chips in the pot and he’s either going to double his winnings or end his evening chipless.

What Paul is saying in Philippians 2 is this: go all in for Christ together. This is what he means when he says “make my joy complete by being like-minded” (NIV). I like the translation of the New Jerusalem Bible better: “.. by being of a single mind.” In other words, go all in together.

In v. 1 Paul notes four factors that ought to persuade us to go all in. First, Paul says, “If you have any encouragement in Christ.” He knows, of course, that we don’t have merely any encouragement in Christ: we have every encouragement, for Christ died on the cross to forgive our sins, and now sits at the right hand of the throne in heaven where he intercedes for us.
Second, says Paul, “If you have any comfort from his love.” Third: “if any fellowship of the Spirit.” Again, we don’t have just any comfort or just any fellowship of the Spirit, but rather every comfort and the full fellowship of the Spirit in our midst.

Fourth: “if any affection and compassion”. Note that this one is outwardly focused. To put it another way: “If you have any capacity to love or for empathy with your fellow man. . . “ Have you ever experienced the joy of making a difference in another person’s life? It’s not hard: just love the people near you as practically as you can. Where might your compassion lead you today?

The overall point is this: if you have any of these things, says Paul, then be of a single mind together for Christ. The verb Paul uses here for “be of a single mind” means to employ one’s faculty for thoughtful planning, with emphasis upon the underlying disposition or attitude. How might your life change if you employed your faculties today for thoughtful planning on how best to glorify Christ with your life, with an emphasis on your underlying disposition and attitude toward the gospel?

Want your life transformed? Want to be part of something bigger than yourself that is transforming the world? It’s time to go all in.

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