My dear readers,
(Extract from RPG, January 1987, Edited by Dr SH Tow)
ONE SPIRIT ONE MIND
A house divided will fall; a church divided, no less, will fall. The Gospel
cannot advance if a church or a group is split by factions. Paul's chief
concern is that the Philippians remain united in their stand for the truth
of the Gospel. The greater fear is not the enemy without but the one
within. Our adversary the devil is ever ready to sow seeds of discontent
and dissension within our fellowship and church.
The story is told of a certain father who was burdened by his five
quarrelsome sons, always striving among themselves. On his deathbed he
gathered them together to divide his property among them. Then he called a
servant to bring five sticks, tied together in a bundle, and asked each son
to break the bundle. Beginning with the eldest they each had a turn, but
none could break the bundle. "Now," he said to the eldest, "untie the
bundle, take one each and try again." The object lesson was well learnt:
united they stood; divided they fell.
In 1747 the Moravian brethren were sorely divided by differences among
them. Their great leader Count Zinzendorf called them together to a
Conference to settle their differences. The many representatives assembled
from all parts of the country, each prepared to contest the view he held.
With godly wisdom, Count Zinzendorf proposed a preliminary period of Bible
study and prayer.
The book chosen was the First Epistle of John. For three days the brethren
submitted themselves to the teaching of God's Word and its main lesson of
"love for all the brethren." By the fourth day, being the Lord's Day, they
gathered for the Breaking of Bread, and they were reminded of the love of
Christ which drew them together, By the time the business session opened on
Monday, the ill feeling and self-assertiveness were largely dissipated.
Soon all differences were dissolved as each leader bowed under the Word of
God. Thus they were restored to "one spirit and one mind."
When self rules, division and distress prevail; when Christ rules unity and
KEYNOTE: United we stand, divided we fall.
PRAYER: Lord, teach me to see all of Christ and none of self.
FOR HIS SAKE
Many people embrace Christianity as a solution to their problems and
difficulties in this life. But this is not what our Lord promised. In
Luke's Gospel, He openly declared to the multitudes (five thousand having
been fed and satisfied):
"… If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross daily, and follow me"
(Luke 9:23). Shortly before He went to the cross, He spoke these words to
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have
overcome the world"
(John 16:33). Christianity is no bed of roses.
Paul's catalogue of sufferings is unrivalled. But the Lord saw him through
each time. He could therefore speak and write from experience. To the
Philippian Christians, and us, he says: "
And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an
token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God”
Suffering for the sake of our faith and for the sake of our Lord is part of
our Christian heritage. Our Lord said it. The Apostles experienced it. We,
who follow in their steps, can we expect anything less? Christianity is not
meant to be smooth sailing. Consider the Apostle's words:
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe
on him, but also to suffer for his sake"
(Phil 1:29). We should not be surprised then if, because of our faith,
persecution and adversity should come our way. If it does, we should not be
dismayed or surprised. Rather, let us be as the Apostles, rejoicing after
they were beaten by the Jews for preaching Jesus, "that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name"
Why should we suffer for His sake? Simply because He suffered for us! The
Lord Creator forsook Heaven's glory, took on the form of a servant, “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb 12:2) and died the
death — for our sakes. What suffering have we borne for His sake?
QUESTION: Can you count the times you have suffered in any way — for His
THOUGHT: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.
What does the Apostle have in mind? Obviously he is greatly concerned over
any divisions that might creep into the church and mar its ministry. To be "like-minded" means to be agreed and unanimous in the great things
of God. In lesser things, where unanimity is not possible, there should be
charity to accommodate a different viewpoint.
We who belong to the Body of Christ (i.e. the Church) are enjoined to be "like-minded" on four grounds as presented by Paul.
1. Because of the "consolation in Christ." Have we
not all received the same consolation from the same Lord? This common
salvation grace is sufficient reason for us to feel a kindred spirit
without fellow Christians in the church.
2. Because of the "comfort of love." This is a
potent binding force, drawing believers together. Nothing so comforts as
the Saviour's love. The experience of such love has constraining power to
dispel all disagreement and promote brotherly love.
3. Because of the "fellowship of the Spirit." As
members of the same Body, believers share the same Spirit. Partakers of
this spiritual gift should not engage in any selfish or divisive
activities. Rather, they should seek to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace" (Eph 4:3).
4. Because of "bowel and mercies." What bowels of
compassion and tender mercies has the Saviour shown to each believer! We
deserved none of it, only God's displeasure and wrath. Yet our Lord
overlooked our faults and showed us abundant compassion. Therefore, show
the same "bowels and mercies" one to another!
In review, Paul's appeal goes something like this: If you have received
these four spiritual graces from the Lord whom we all serve, forget all
trivial differences and disagreements. Be of one mind. This will make my
QUESTION: Can you name some of the causes of division in your group or
PRAYER: Lord, may I who serve Thee have Thy mind.
God bless all readers.