Paul uses a rhetorical ‘if’ in our passage this week. If there is encouragement, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if there is any affection and compassion…he seems to shout out the answer…”AND OF COURSE THERE IS!” We are to be like Christ because He is all these things. To be like Christ, we must put aside selfishness…we must put aside personal interests…we must practice humility.
To put this Christ-like attitude into practice, what might it look like? During this pandemic when many people are cut off from others and unable to interact, we could look for ways to reach out to them and challenge them with interactions. Many of our senior adults are having cognitive failure because they lack interaction that makes them think. Paul would say, “don’t think about what you have lost during this lockdown, think–how can I encourage and love and show compassion, and share fellowship with someone else?” Look at this pandemic as an opportunity to minister and serve others. Sounds like what Christ would do!
“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Paul’s training in the eternal kind of life came not from just any man, but from Jesus himself. That’s what Paul told the church in Galatia. Paul’s point was not bragging rights. As a Pharisee, he knew firsthand how people attempt to augment sacred revelation. It’s what happened with the law of Moses. Paul was not going to be an interpreter of Jesus’s teaching, but a conduit. He wasn’t going to expand, but remind. That determination is the purity present in Paul’s thought. To the Philippians, therefore, he echoes precisely the words of our Lord’s Golden Rule: Understand the unique needs of others, and do that for them. His words are a tell that he had been taught by Christ.
Re:Verse passage – Philippians 2:1-4(day two) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; vs. 3
It is a recurring trope found throughout scripture; the first shall be last, the greatest shall be the least, to lead you shall follow. It is a picture of God’s economy that runs counter to how most of us think about the world. Ambition, drive, motivation – these are not bad things, but they must be measured up against God’s design for how we interact with others. Our “drive” should include our fellow journeyman. Those walking this path with us. We must consider their role in this Kingdom work as well. It’s not about getting there first, it’s about bringing as many with us as possible. Only through Christ-like humility can we accomplish this, but the good news is He meets us right there.
Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, Associate Pastor Aaron Hufty and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through Philippians 2:1-4 in our Fall Sermon Series: “Pure Joy” a study of Philippians.
Have you spent much time around horses? This word here for “alarmed,” is the word also used to describe a spooked horse. Horses get spooked when something happens that they don’t understand. When really spooked they tend to jump sideways and change course from where they were going. A good rider refocuses the nervous energy of the horse onto keeping him moving around the object. In doing so, the horse has to pay more attention to the rider than what spooked him.
Spooks are going to happen, just like opponents to the gospel. When opposition arises, our job is not to worry about the opponent. This would cause us to jump off our course. When opposition arises, we are to refocus our energy and lean into the Master. He will take the reigns and guide us safely through.
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven…Philippians 1:27a
In a world increasingly divided into tribes (i.e. conservative or progressive), each brandishing their own weapons of war sharpened by deep-seated arrogance and loathing, Paul calls us into something otherworldly.
Faith and joy in Jesus binds us to a new kind of tribe, with a new set of weapons to advance a different mission. Arrogance and loathing are replaced with the two-edged sword of humility and grace, with mercy, and kindness rounding out the arsenal. The fruit of this heavenly tribe’s tactics isn’t death and annihilation, but new life and unity.
You see, you can always distinguish the tribe by the weapons they carry.
So, above all, live as citizens of heaven (aliens and exiles), soldiers in the Gospel tribe.
“I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” God’s grand design is on display in Paul’s mind and in his words. We all face suffering and difficulty at one time or another. Granted they may come in varying degrees, but the reality is that each of us has or will face suffering or difficulty or hardship.Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” Matthew 5:11 If we live worthy of the gospel (as Paul exhorts) suffering WILL come. To them. To us.
The secret to standing firm is as much about fellowship as it is about fighting. Paul’s words reveal God’s wisdom and plan. Steadfastness is grounded in unity- one spirit, one mind, striving together. Will you seek out fellowship with others? Will you give and receive encouragement, accountability, and community to members the body? Social distancing does not hinder the work of the Spirit! Will you keep the unity of the church so that others may be able to “live a life worthy of the gospel” even in suffering?
Suffering is something most of us go to great lengths to avoid. There is nothing enjoyable or exciting about suffering. “The words pain, uncomfortable, and avoidable come to mind. Yet, in verse 29, Paul says it has been ‘granted’ to you for Christ’s sake. ‘Granted’ carries the connotation of a reward, an honor, a gift, or ‘bestowed upon with preference.’
Suffering, for Paul, was not to be avoided. He took it in stride as an opportunity to reveal God’s grace or deliverance, or glory. Paul saw every activity of life to be an open door to share the gospel. How many doors were open to him to share the gospel through his suffering? How many people came to know Christ because Paul witnessed to them through his suffering?
Are you on the search? Do you view all of life as an opportunity to magnify God and give witness to His atonement? The world needs to see the grace of God lived out in your life!
Did Paul ever panic? He never mentioned it if he did. But before he began learning from Jesus how to live, he demonstrated behavior that looked an awful lot like alarm or consternation, panic’s close cousins. He responded to the Jesus Way by attempting to eradicate it with terror – violent arrests, imprisonments, the casting of votes for death sentences. The safeguarding of his life’s foundation was a high priority. It is for you, too. And there are so many things which seem to threaten that foundation. Jesus knew that, of course. He taught Paul – and he teaches us – that when the terror rises, look at the birds, see the flowers. Feel the turning of the earth marking your days. The universe has been founded securely by God. So has your life. So has the church.
…so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit…vs. 27b
If you are a teacher or a parent you have probably experienced this scenario: You give an assignment or a chore and leave the children/students to their work only to come back into the room before the expected you to arrive only to find them doing anything but the work. Sound familiar? Paul is reminding us that we are to remain steadfast in our call regardless of our perceived audience. It does little good for us to only be about our task when the pastor is watching. You can understand how a child would be motivated by proximity, but we should remember that our work, our call, and service is always to be rendered unto the Lord. We shouldn’t seek a pat on the back, you will get your ‘well done’ later. What task have you been called to today? What are you waiting for? Keep pressing forward.