For Paul, those who wish to identify as Christians, are expected to live like Christians. Sadly, as obvious as this might seem, many who claim to be Christians fail to demonstrate in their behaviour that they are any different from the rest of humanity. Paul expects their behaviour, attitudes and a lifestyle of purity will mark them out as followers of Christ (Phil 2:14-16). The model which they are to copy is the example of Christ himself (Phil 2:5-11). His example surpasses all others because he was God, and who in becoming human, submitted himself to God’s will and became a slave, even becoming obedient to death. This ‘descent’ of Christ to absolute humility, is what is to characterise the Christian’s attitudes to others, especially in the church (2:3-4).
In place of selfish ambition, pride, envy and a strong, independent will expresses itself in the claim they are right, Paul wants them to be united in love, with tenderness. Pushy ambition has no place in the church either (Phil 2:2-3). Evidence of God’s will and blessing on someone’s idea or view will be seen in the fruit it produces. Does it promote a common mind, a sense we are all sharing in the same plan? If it does, this is an indication that the Spirit of God is at work (2:1).
Our lifestyle, the way we speak to each other and treat each other, must be like that of Christ. Paul highlights that they, as Christians, live in the midst of a ‘crooked and morally twisted generation’ (2:15). Against this dark background, the Christian shines like the stars on a dark night (2:15). If we claim to be one of Christ’s, we must act like we really are one of his followers.