“It’s a Mindset”
Philippians 3:15 – 4:3
We are reading Paul’s letter to his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, in the church at Philippi. Previously in the letter Paul used himself as an example as one who had rejected his Jewish privileges for the gospel and instead was focused on living totally oriented toward the future. A future that was “already” but “not yet.” The Holy Spirit is here now, with us, we have been redeemed, we can know Christ now and 
yet, the future has for us an eschatological prize of eternity with Jesus. In the meantime, we are called to keep our mind set on that prize.
In today’s Scripture, Paul turns to apply his example to the situation in Philippi. Paul focuses on two major concerns: 
That those in Philippi stand firm in the Lord, keeping their eyes on Christ and their sure future
That they do so having one mindset
Paul begins describing what that one mindset should look like in verse 15, he calls out to all who have a mature view of things. And just in case they need assistance, God will reveal to them where their mindset may need further help on matters. Regardless, Paul concludes with the focus being on their behavior, encouraging them to live up to what they already know and have attained. Basically, Paul was saying they had more that they understood and agreed upon than they had differences, and they should focus on those things. The focus for Paul was for everyone to commit to a basic frame of mind, a way of looking at everything, which would lead them to an agreed upon way of behaving. 
Paul’s mindset or way of looking at everything included participation in Christ’s sufferings, being conformed to His death, and pressing on in an eager pursuit of the eschatological prize. 
Did you catch that? 
Because when I read this description I have to admit that on a daily basis, those items rarely if ever cross my mind. What about you? Let me read them again and see if they are details you put forth in front of you on a daily basis. 
Paul’s mindset or way of looking at everything included:
participation in Christ’s sufferings, 
being conformed to His death, and 
an eager pursuit of the eschatological prize. 
Don’t know that I participate in Christ’s suffering, or am being conformed to His death or that I am pursuing a prize that I will receive when I die. 
However, if I read on to verses 18-19 and 20-21, I can completely relate to the description of those who were described as being “enemies of the cross.” They had their minds set on present earthly things, and were set in sharp contrast to those with a Godly mindset, who’s citizenship is in heaven, and who eagerly await to be with the Savior. 
Unfortunately, that is something I can wrap my head around. 
Paul encourages his friends to join him in living up to what they have already attained. 
In the midst of your struggles, don’t slip backwards, hang on to what you know, keep up the faith. It’s hard to believe Paul is writing anything they have not already heard. In fact, he has already written it is not burdensome for him to write the same things over and over again. He saw it as a safeguard. It was a story he loved to tell and hear over and over again. 
It’s important to remember why Paul is writing this same old story over again. The Philippians were experiencing difficulties, opposition and some internal dissension. The stress and anxiety had caused some of them to lose their vision and focus for the crucified and risen Lord, including His coming again. That certainly resonates with life for us today. Living in the midst of a world pandemic, that waxes and wanes and has no end in sight, can make one anxious and stressed. Yet, Paul is our example. 
Even in a Roman prison he has not lost his vision and he urges us to follow his example, where he sees suffering as a way of conforming to Christ’s suffering, so that we, like Paul and those in Philippi may joyously gain the prize of eternity with our Lord. 
Paul continues in verse 17 with an imperative, this means, he implores them to imitate him in their behavior and that they also have a discerning eye for how others are walking around them.  In verses 18 and 19 Paul gives his reasons for why they should be speculative of others’ walk, because there were some that did not walk correctly. Basically those who set their minds on earthly matters were in complete contrast to Paul’s example of setting his mind on winning the eschatological prize. 
It is not clear exactly who Paul has in mind but the thought is he was referring to people who may have appeared as believers or were once believers  but have left the way of the cross. Their god was their stomach, and their glory was in their shame. These phrases have no clear definition other than these people had set their minds on earthly things.  I’m sure even today we can comprehend this dilemma. If we do not know someone personally who was once walking with God and is now walking the way of the world, we have certainly heard of such people. It had to have been common in Paul’s day as well, as he shares, in verse 18, that he has told them this often and yet, regardless of the repeating of such happenings, Paul does so with tears. Paul cried for his fellow believers who had turned away from their faith. 
Paul’s response to those many who were not walking in the Lord, comes in verse 20, “our citizenship is in heaven.” 
Here is the classic expression of the eschatological framework of Pauline theology. “Already, but not yet.” Christ is here, but He’s coming again. Paul reminds the Philippians that Christ gained His present glory through humiliation. Christ is now in heaven, waiting for the day He will come to get His children. On that day, Christ will transform us, into His likeness. Paul also reminds them that with Christ’s return all things will be subject to Him. Paul urges them to not forget where their earthly  citizenship lies. They are heaven bound. By keeping their mind set on Jesus, in the midst of their current sufferings they needed to be reminded, even again, they were being conformed into His likeness. 
Somehow this news, although true, doesn’t always relieve the pain of the current suffering. 
It does however, put light on the subject and reveals it for what it really is… suffering. No ifs, ands, or buts, suffering is not fun, it’s not joyful, and it’s not something we want. It is however, something that allows us to share in the experience Christ had when He became human. The same power that transformed Christ’s dead body, will one day transform His believers. Thus, Paul shares hope with his friends, a hope that he shares so they will follow Paul’s example and not just “wait” for the end, but actively “press on” toward the goal, since the final prize is resurrection with Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Paul brings this section of his letter to a close with two appeals. The first one is directed toward the whole community. He urges them to stand firm in the Lord. The second appeal is directed specifically to two women, Eurodia and Syntyche. Paul urges them to agree with each other. 
Paul’s focus of the entire letter has been the furthering of the gospel in the midst of opposition. He has appealed to the Philippians to do this by standing firm and being one in the Spirit, as one person, having the same mindset. He was writing to his friends, his co-workers for the Lord. He actually names two of his co-workers by name and another member of the community, whom he doesn’t name, to come to their aid, to assist them to come to the same mindset. Paul rarely ever mentions anyone by name. He did not call them out because they were “bad,” actually it was just the opposite. These ladies were long time friends of Paul. They were co-workers and leaders in the believing community of Philippi. Somehow they had fallen on some bad times in their “doing the gospel.” The reason we know they were Paul’s friends is because he did name them. 
At the time of Paul’s writing, should one have enmity towards another, they would never give them dignity by writing their name. They would denigrate them by leaving them anonymous. 
There is no other knowledge of these women. In verse 3, Paul referred to them as having “contended at his side in the gospel,” so they were definitely leaders in the church. Which was not that strange, because we do know the church in Philippi was started by women known as “God-fearers,” who met by the river on the Jewish Sabbath for prayer. You can read this in Acts 16. Historically Macedonian women were known to have a much larger role in public life than elsewhere at that time. 
It’s not clear what the nature of Euodia’s and Syntyche’s disagreement was about. 
Because of this we can speculate whatever it was, it was not substantial and would have had to do with “how to do the gospel,” in the context of Philippi, with their present suffering. The issue in Paul’s letter is not some petty quarrel between two people, so like everyone else, Paul entreats these two leaders to have the same mindset in the Lord. 
Now were I to have the address for the person who sent me a pamphlet on why women should not be in leadership, I would direct them to this passage. Here is definitely evidence, for women in leadership in the New Testament. One cannot deny their role in the church in Philippi. Paul states it clearly. I see this as evidence that the Holy Spirit is gender blind. He sees fit to give gifts as He wills. We are called to recognize His gifting and to assist all such people, male and female, to have the same mindset in the Lord. 
I thank you, members of Damariscotta Baptist Church for doing so and together may we be effective in living the gospel.
Looking beyond “women in leadership,” this portion of Paul’s letter is as contemporary today as it was in the first century. Paul’s call “to stand firm in the Lord,” isn’t just a call for us individually, it is a call for any local body of believers. The gospel is at stake for every generation. And the call to God’s people whose “names are written in the book of life,” is to do so in whatever opposition may exist at the time. Paul tells us exactly how to do so effectively. God’s people, especially those in leadership, need to learn to subordinate their personal agendas to the larger agenda of furthering the gospel. We are called to have the same mindset in the Lord. What does that look like in today’s world? The same as it did for Euodia and Syntyche. 
Stop holding on to your way of doing things, humbly sacrifice yourself for the sake of others. You may be correct, but what difference does it make, if the gospel is compromised in the process? A big difference. Someone may miss hearing and understanding the gospel, which has eternal consequences. Paul reminds us that being a Christian in the midst of a pagan world has never been easy, but the reward is worth it. 
Let’s pray.