Paul begins this section with an urgent call for the Philippians to live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ. What did he have in mind? A life of engaging in struggle for the advancement of the gospel. But in the midst of suffering how are we to stand firm in the struggle? Paul’s answer is that we stand firm together. The only problem is that suffering not only keeps people from struggling for the gospel but it also makes them less willing to look out for each other.
Paul’s solution to this is that we are freed to look out for each other because God is looking out for us. Christ demonstrated this mindset when he empties himself of glory to serve us knowing that God was serving him and would restore him to his rightful glorious place.
Have you ever had to accomplish a really difficult task? How did you see community play a role in your ability to follow through? Or how did a lack of community affect you?
1. Paul says we are to live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ. What did he have in mind? (Tell them “Look at verses 1:27-30 for insights into what he meant.”) On the other hand, try to describe what a life unworthy of the gospel of Christ would look like.
2. According to this passage, what are some ways unity plays a role in the spread of the gospel? How have you seen disunity hinder the spread of the gospel?
3. Think about what it is like to suffer. How might hard times promote disunity among a community? Why might a person be more tempted to selfishness in the midst of personal difficulty?
4. Paul begins by mentioning four aspects of the Christian experience, what are they? What do you think these things mean?
5. In verses 2:24 Paul gives the Philippians a number of commands. What are they? Just list them for now.
6. Verses 2:14 constitute one big thought. It is a big if-then statement. “If you have experienced these four things in verse 1, then act this way described in verses 2-4.” Think about the situation of the Philippians. How would experiencing the things mentioned in verse 2:1 empower or help the Philippians to live out Paul’s expectations in 2:2-4?
7. Paul says we are to adopt Christ’s mindset toward each other. Skim back over verses 1:27-2:4? How do we see Christ portrayed in 2:5-11 living out the life Paul has described? (If they are stuck ask: Where do we see him experiencing the elements of the Christian experience in 2:1? How has Christ fulfilled the commandments in the rest of the passage?)
8. What do we learn about Christ’s nature from these verses? How is understanding Christ’s nature significant to his example of humility?
9. How does Christ’s relationship with the Father influence Christ’s wiliness to look out for the interests of others and not just his own? How is this a model for us in our relationship with God?
10. What struggles in life make it difficult to take “the form of a servant”? In the midst of difficulty, what are you believing at a heart level that causes you to turn toward self-service, rivalry or conceit?
11. What did you see about Christ from this passage that if you experience in the face of difficulty would free you to serve the interests of others?
12. Who are the people in your life that God is calling you to have one mind with? How are you cultivating this? When you think of your Christian communities, do you view it as being for the sake of advancing the gospel? What would it look like for you to be part of creating communities of people living lives worthy of the gospel?
13. Are there frightening opponents in your life right now? How can your community stand with you and strive with you for the faith of the gospel? Tell your community group how they can stand with you.
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