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Philippians 4:2-9 “Spiritual Mind Melding” August 24, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Discipleship, Philippians, Religion, Sermons.
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MIND MELDING

Philippians 4:2-9

Recently there was a commercial for one of the big box stores in which a man goes in and asks one of the associates what type of product he needs to purchase. The associate places her hand on the man’s forehead and they go into what Star Trek fans know as the Vulcan Mind Meld. After a few moments, she releases his forehead, repeats the information that she has gleaned from his mind and tells him what he needs to buy. As she is walking away, he, obviously impressed, asks her how many children he is going to have and she tells him.

Now that is an impressive ability that no one really has, however, in Philippians, Paul tells us about a spiritual mind melding, a meeting of the minds, that is possible for us as believers to have and which we are commanded to practice.

This spiritual mind melding has two aspects.

Our minds are to meld with each other in the Lord (4:2). We are always to be of the same mind in the Lord (see Philippians 2:2 for the definition of what it means to be of the same mind). This exhortation to these two women is a practical application of the truth of Philippians 3:14-16. There are a couple of things that we know about these ladies. We know that they were not getting along. We also know that they were members of the church at Philippi. Paul recognized that these ladies were under the authority of the church. Now certainly this is a spiritual authority but it was also a geographical authority.

We are to be actively engaged as a church in seeking one mind in the Lord (4:3).

Notice who all is involved, his yokefellow with Clement and with the rest of his fellow workers. Although the primary command is to the yokefellow, the implication seems to be that the whole team is involved and to be involved. Paul uses this word, “fellow workers”, thirteen times. Paul recognized that we are not to labor in isolation but to labor together. That is why I encourage people to get a partner in their ministry, whatever that ministry may be. Normally, God does not want you working alone. Why? Because those who work alone do not last. They get tired. They get discouraged. They get grumpy. They burn out.

Notice what they are to do. They are to be helping. They not supposed to just mention one time that there is a problem and they need to get it taken care of. They are to take hold of this problem and to not let it go until they reach a solution. This is the word that describes a posse going out in the wild to find the criminal. When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, this is the word the gospel writers used, obviously in a negative sense. Paul is commanding this yokefellow and others who are close to these two women to pursue peace, the same mind, between these two women as if they were chasing down and dangerous criminal and stay at it until these women are of the same mind in Christ.

Philippians 1:27-28 commands this as an essential part of walking in accordance to the kingdom of heaven. Our fellowship with each other is more than just a fringe benefit. It is our strength as believers. Hebrews 10 talks about the church being the entity that keeps people from falling away from Christ. First John makes it clear that our fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ is one of the primary proofs of our salvation. The quality of my relationship to Christ is seen in the quality of my relationship with other believers. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:23-24) that if the fellowship with your brother is not right then your worship is worthless. Worship, of course, is simply submission to God shown through outward acts. If I do not have a relationship with my brother and sister in Christ, there is a legitimate question about my submission to God.

We do this through the attitude of joy and gentleness knowing that the Lord is soon coming (4:4-5).

Philippians is known as the epistle of joy. Now there are many things over which we should rejoice and all of our rejoicing is in the Lord but one of the key areas that Paul points out should be an area of rejoicing for us is in each other. In fact, based on Philippians 2:17-18 we are commanded to rejoice in our fellow believers in Christ in the same sacrificial way that Paul rejoiced in the Philippians. Our joy is directly connected to other believers (Philippians 2:28 for another example). We are to rejoice in and for and with each other. Philippians 1:4, Paul rejoiced in praying for the Philippians. Philippians 1:25, Paul points out that his purpose on the earth was to increase the joy of other believers. Now what is going on in this letter? Look at Philippians 2:2. Paul is saying to this church, “You have people problems. Take care of those problems and you will cause me to rejoice fully.” At the beginning of chapters 3 and 4 Paul commands these believers to rejoice. Why? On what basis? Because they are in the Lord and they are a part of one another. The reason that many believers are miserable and joyless is because they do not rejoice in each other. It works like this: Paul says, “If you rejoice in each other, you will be able to solve your interpersonal problems and if you solve your interpersonal problems, you will be able to rejoice as you should.”

Not only is our attitude to be one of joy but also of gentleness. Almost every translation translates this word differently. It is found five times in the New Testament and it is never directly explained. However, in the context of Philippians I think we can explain it this way. Gentleness is the way of living that results from a heart that is content to live for others and not for itself.

Why can we do this? Because our Lord is coming. Verse 3 points out that as believers our names are all together in the book of life. The reason I can rejoice in others and the reason that I can live gently, content to live for others and not for myself is because I know that our names are together in the book of life and that the Lord is coming at any moment to take us to be with Him for all eternity. I am content not to be in the “Who’s Who” book because we are together in the book of life. I am content to suffer here in this world because I know that when He comes, our joint-suffering will be our glory. I do not know if there is a literal book but based on the force of this passage, I imagine that we might not be listed in the book individually but rather that there could be one page entitled, “my fellow workers at Fellowship Bible Church.”

Our minds are to meld with God’s (4:5). We are not to focus our minds on this world (Matthew 6) but rather on others (Cf. 2:20 with 1 Cor. 12:25).

We refocus through prayer (4:6-7) guarding our inner being through prayer (Compare 4:7 with Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2). When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked his disciples to watch with him in prayer but they could not. Instead they fell asleep. Jesus warned them that if they did not refocus in prayer, they would open themselves up to sin through temptation. Peter, one of the sleeping disciples, learned that lesson as we can see in 1 Peter 4:7. He said, Christ is coming, you need to be serious and watchful in your prayers. Jude 20-21 indicates that prayer is one of the activities that allows us to keep ourselves in the love of God.

He describes prayer as supplication (Philippians 1:4, 19). Ephesians 6:18 talks about prayer and supplication being a guard around the camp.

He describes prayer as thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2 brings out the point that thanksgiving is as much a part of watchful prayer as making requests is a part of watchful prayer.

He describes prayer as God listening to our requests. The emphasis in this verse is not on us making requests but on God hearing requests.

We train our minds through meditation on the truth of God (4:8-9). Verse 7 makes it clear that the battlefield is our mind. Verses 8-9 tell us how to win that battle. This involves learning from the Scriptures and learning from other believers. This list of things that we are to think on are all things that are found primarily in God’s Word. There is actually no better description of the character of God’s Word than this list. Paul says, these are the things that you have learned and received from me, that you have heard from and seen in me. Go and do the same.

We need to change the way we think. We do this in three ways.

Through fellowship with other believers: working and praying and worshiping and encouraging one another. Some things are easier caught than taught. Yes, we are to listen and learn but there is a reason why people usually do not grow very much through radio and TV ministries without the support of the local church. There is no fellowship. There are no examples of how to put into practice what one is learning. There is no one to encourage when another stumble. There is no one who really cares about the personal battles. Through fellowship, however, Paul says in Philippians that to the extent that believers invest their lives into each other, their thinking is changed because their minds meld into one in Christ.

Through prayer: There is an old saying that said prayer changes things. On the authority of the Scriptures, prayer changes me. Too long we have said, tell me what I can do to solve my problems and do not tell me to pray. Well, I am not going to do that. Jesus said that there are some things that happen only through prayer and fasting.

Through God’s Word: From God’s Word we learn God’s perspective. We see the world and our lives from a heavenly perspective. We see how things fit together in this world. We are able to discern and judge what is important. We need God’s perspective about work, money, pleasure, suffering, good, evil, family, church, the times we live in, and a host of other important issues. That perspective is found in God’s Word.

What will happen when we change the way we think?

When we do these things we will have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. According to Colossians 3:12-17, we are called to the peace of God in one body. You see, the peace of God is inseparable from fellowship, prayer, and the truth of the Word of God. Remember, the peace of God is not confidence that we are making right decisions. The peace of God is living in a right attitude towards the world and towards other believers.

We have already mentioned protection. What do you fear? What should you fear? Whatever Satan may throw against you, whatever the world may throw against you, whatever your own heart may throw against you, you can combat when you change the way you think. “Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

We will be able to handle trials that are thrown against us. These people were suffering persecution but Paul made it clear to them that they could stand fast together in the Lord if they would bring their thoughts in line with God’s thoughts (Philippians 1:27-31). I have had people tell how difficult it is in the workplace to live the Christian life. Some of these same people have told me how that they leave church on Sunday morning, encouraged ready to go but when they get to work, all hell seems to break loose against them. Yet some of these same people neglected the fellowship with other believers. They have time for work and for family and for vacations but they do not have time for the body of Christ and find it difficult to maintain time alone with God in Bible reading and prayer. The very things they need to strengthen themselves so that they stand fast in the Lord are the very things they neglect.

What do we need to change? The way we think. How are we going to change it? Through fellowship with other believers, through prayer with and for each other, and through learning and obeying the Word of God.

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