Belief and Behavior

Philippians 2:5-11

During the time Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he wrote a loving, parental type letter to the church at Philippi, a church that was dear to his heart. He had previously received word that there was disagreement and discord in the fellowship. In trying to address the problem and offer guidance for healing and unity, he admonishes them to “have this mind which was in Christ Jesus.” Or as some translations read, “have within yourselves the same disposition of mind that was in Christ Jesus.”

Paul is pleading with the Philippians to put aside their petty jealousies and selfish ambitions and look to Jesus, taking on the disposition of one who emptied himself in service and obedience. Then he immediately launches into an uplifting and exalting hymn extolling the majesty and glory of Jesus and his relationship to the Father. It is a theological treatise of the highest order.

Every Christian would do well to read this passage often during the Lenten season. As we dig deeper into our own spiritual lives approaching the crucifixion and resurrection, we need to read Paul’s powerful words. But as we read, we need to caution ourselves, not to remain in worship and adoration, but remember Paul’s command to have the disposition of Jesus. Belief and behavior are interconnected. What we say we believe is meant to take shape in how we treat others. Great beliefs have little effect unless they produce right actions.

Emily Campbell Tuck

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