Where humility is lacking, disorder will reign; where humility is present, love, oneness of mind, and mutual agreement in the gospel will prevail. Humility is indispensable for unity. One of the implications of this is that a church marked by division and disorder is a church that, among other things, lacks humility. It is a church filled with members who have lost sight of the primacy of the gospel and the supremacy of Christ, and who are therefore left jostling for the fulfilment of their own private interests.
…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. (Philippians 2:2–4)
Wherever divisions (1 Cor. 11:18), strife (3:3), distinctions (Js. 2:4), or disorder (3:16) exist in a church, you can be sure that something somewhere has gone awry. As any used car owner will tell you, that cacophony of screeching, scraping, clunking, and bumping noises under the hood is not a sign of automotive well-being. To the contrary, such sounds are a dreaded indication that something (and probably many somethings) is not functioning as it should. Attention is required to set the broken parts to right.
But just as the proper state of a vehicle is for everything to be in working order, operating together in harmony and cooperation, so the proper state of a church is to do the same. Despite the inevitable pull the saints will feel toward decay and fragmentation, they must, as the apostle here says, strive to be “of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (v. 2). This, apparently, is not only possible for gospel-believing churches, but is in fact the normative pattern for them. The apostle stakes his joy on it, after all (v. 2).
So how are we to maintain this oneness? The means are given in verse 3: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Selfish ambition and conceit, then, are the culprits that will disrupt and hinder unity. Humility, on the other hand — the attitude whereby you consider others and their interests more significant than your own —