Last time we discussed the age-old strategy of “Divide and Conquer” which the enemy uses to cause a lack of unity in the body of Christ. This strategy is aimed at identifying which relationships or team members are strong and then proceeding to undermine those relationships and interactions, thereby causing disunity in the team. The body of Christ is called to unity in Eph 4:3-6 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace…” and the enemy has one objective: to break that unity down.
When the enemy cannot directly break down unity by opposing believers (Phil 1:27-30), he will set up snares or traps, which by their nature will result in a gradual disunity developing. Paul warns us in Eph 5:15-18
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit.”
As we have seen before, the Spirit causes us to be one in Christ. Each believer, filled with the Spirit, will have “fellowship with the Spirit” (Phil 2:1) which causes us to “stand firm in one spirit” and “contend as one man for the gospel.” (Phil 1:27) The Spirit causes us to be “like minded,” “one in spirit and in purpose” (Phil 2:2).
- The first is critical or negative thinking towards others, where we continually find fault with others. This breaks down the unity and oneness we have in the Spirit, as it will limit the anointing. We often complain that “we cannot work with them because…” or say “oh I admire them, but…” At the base of it all is our attitude of critical or negative thinking. They irritate us, consciously or unconsciously and we have reasons to justify how we feel. So, we feel that we can break off relationships, or have nothing to do with them.
Christ provides all the resources we need to reconcile personal differences and do the work He has prepared for us (Eph 2:10), as well as fulfill our purpose (Eph 4:14-16; Phil2:2). We all share our bond with Christ and the fellowship of the Spirit, and He promises to help us in our weaknesses (2 Cor 12:19). We are called to bear with one another’s weaknesses (Eph 4:2; Col 3:13), including the weaknesses of immature believers who we are to be patient with. To also overlook injuries and insults for the benefit of unity (Prov 12:16).
We are called to look to Christ and change the way we think. Starting with:
“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever isadmirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Phil 4:8) … about that person.
A second unity killer is “selfish ambition and vain conceit” mentioned in Phil 2:3-4. These two unity killers are probably behind every marriage that is failing and develop out of critical thinking mentioned above.
“Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others.”
Note, he does not say our interests are not important, but that we should “also” look to the interests of others. This really means that while you are about your own business, to be alert as to how you can help someone else or meet the needs of others. It includes looking at ways to empower the people around you. In a world where personal goals can drown out the needs of others, it is easy to see why not being attentive to the interests of others can become a habit.
When it comes to “vain conceit,” more commonly known as pride, Paul also suggests another strategy in Phil 2:3-4
“But in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
In churches, “older” believers often look down on “younger” (and I am not speaking about age here) believers. Often though, at their stage of spiritual maturity they are probably more faithful to what they have come to understand, than older believers. They are often better at being believers of Christ, simply because their attitudes are marked by greater humility.
It is an attitude that lays aside what we think of ourselves and treats others with respect and common courtesy.
Father forgive me for all the times that I have had an attitude that I am better than other people, or more important. Help me not to be so focused on my agenda, who I am and what I am about, but to consider other people and behave in such a way as to take care of their interests too. Help me to evaluate how I think of other people as well as my personal attitude towards people. Help me make correction to my thinking and my behavior.