With the Gospel as our basis for unity established, Paul turns his attention and ours to an expansion of how such unity is exhibited—likemindedness, or as the ESV translates it—“of the same mind.” Likemindedness is very important to Paul, he mentions it 10 times in Philippians. It literally means “to love the same things.” What are the things we should love? In the immediate literary context it starts with a negative: it is not a love of what’s important to me, my interests, my comforts, my exaltation. Rather it’s a likemindedness rooted in loving God with our entire being and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).
Many have said that the theme of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is joy. There is a lot of merit to this claim. Paul mentions joy or rejoicing 12 times in this short letter. Warren Weirsbe, now with the Lord, wrote the popular “Be…” series and the title of his Philippians study was of course, “Be Joyful!” But as I read Philippians today I wonder if Paul (and Warren Weirsbe now?) might say, “Joy, yes, important, but don’t miss unity!”
We see unity being the source of joy for Paul when he writes,
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 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, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:1-11