Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

The death of Maurice Gibb this week given his age has made me sit up and think. Here is a man who has had a tremendous impact on the world of music. Many TV reports mourned his loss and asked the question, “What will the world be like without him?”

That raises the question when I am gone what will the world be like without me? And, if you were gone what difference would that make to the world?

It seems to me the most, rather than having an over inflated view, have an under estimated view of their impact on the world. Some of us imagine that we have no impact at all and therefore will not be missed. In extreme cases this leads some to contemplate suicide, still others damage themselves. This is sad indeed, regardless of who we are we have some impact on those around us, we are not nothings.

Others imagine that they are so important that the world could not function without them. This is not true, for so many have come, thought this, and died yet the world goes on. While in some sense these people are a danger to themselves, they pose an even greater danger to others.

These are the extremes. Few are at either end. Most of us are in the middle somewhere.

Where do you fit?

As I said earlier we all have impact, the question is what kind of impact, and upon whom do we have that impact. If we have children then we automatically have impact upon them as they grow. But we are engaged in all kinds of relationships. In each of these we will have some impact. Some of us by nature are high impact people, our personalities are such that others take notice of us whether we want them to or not. Some of us by nature are low impact people, our personalities are such that we are not always noticed and we do not appear to have a high impact. But none of us can say that we have no impact.

Somehow facing death brings clarity to our thoughts. We push aside all the unimportant matters and focus on the high significant issues of our life.

On a number of occasions I've had the privilege to share in people's death experiences. And while these vary in so many different ways yet they all have a similar thread to them. They all want to talk about what is important to them. They will all make an attempt to do so. Those around them do not always recognised this and so sometimes sadly ignore what is being said or dismiss it as of little importance.

On at least two occasions in my life I've had the task of burying friends. I remember asking them both as they faced death what was are the most important things they have learned over the last few months. Both of them replied with almost the same answer.

In both instances, the things they said and the things that Paul said in Philippians are almost identical.

Philippians 4:4-9 (NRSV)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Its clear that Paul's here giving us some advice which if we take it will mean we will have significant impact in our world.

The most significant impact that we can have are not on things but on people.

So if we take this advice what will that mean. We will learn what it means to rejoice in the Lord always. Now rejoice and always seem hard to put together. That is because we don't see the context of what Paul is saying and think that Paul means that we are to rejoice in all the things happen to us. So for example do I rejoice in the fact that somebody put a stone through our window on Friday night? Not all! I'm not going to rejoice in that at all as a specific happening. It caused us great inconvenience and adds to the unpleasantness of living where we do. However, if I let that incident determine my attitude to life and to God then I will be in a sad way. No, I will not rejoice in the circumstances of Friday night, however, I will rejoice in the Lord who was with us on Friday night.

(the next sentence makes no sense will revise later, I can't remember what I said) Lost I'm glad that nothing happened where a person is not bad that I will rejoice in as glad as I am.  No I will rejoice in the Lord, he is the one who gives me jaw in life.  If surely only comes from circumstances then some of us will never be very happy for our circumstances are not pleasant and are unlikely to change that that is not mean that I cannot rejoice.  I can with Paul rejoice in the Lord.  When my joy is found in him instead of circumstances I gained a perspective on life that I would not otherwise have.  This perspective will enable me to cope with my circumstances whatever they may be.

As others see my attitudes in the midst of my circumstances it will have any impact on them.  If my attitude is one of rage and anger on those who throw rocks and nothing more, then my impact is unlikely to be positive.  If I rejoice in rock throwers and broken windows others will no doubt think that I'm a fool.  But if my spirit is rejoicing in the goodness of God to my heart and I see the world though his eyes then even in the midst of such circumstances others will see something desirable in me.  That which is desirable is the work of God in my heart as I learned to rejoice in who he is in spite of my circumstances.

Paul follows this up by saying, “let your gentleness be known to everyone.” This flows on naturally from what he just said.  If in the midst of our circumstances we have learned to rejoice in the Lord then we can be gentle.  We will have impact by letting others see our gentleness.  Furthermore if we have learned to rejoice truly in the Lord then we will know that we don't need to worry about anything.  We will know that we can pray about anything and let God know what we need.  He will care for us, and as he does he will give us his peace, and that, sometimes in spite of our circumstances.

Now Paul also knows that the way we think has a great bearing on our ability to do these things.  So how should we think?  Well, we should think about whatever is true, honourable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  The way we think shapes what we become.  In computer programming there is a phrase which is appropriate here.  It is, "garbage in, garbage out".  So true, what goes in the will come out.  Fill our minds with garbage and that's what they will generate.

Paul also encourages the Philippians to follow his example.  Elsewhere he encourages others to follow his example as he follows Christ.  None of us are perfect and neither was Paul and he certainly knew that yet he encourage others to follow his example. His example of following Jesus. Of repenting after sinning, of asking forgiveness of those he may have wronged, of doing all that he is now asking of the Philippians.

If we do all that Paul encourages in this passage then we will be an example worthy of being followed.  It is a little scary, isn't it?  Let me remind you something else that I said earlier.  If we have young children as parents they will follow our example whether we want them to or not. So what Kind of example do we want them to see?

In the workplace others may be looking to us as an example of how they should function.  We may not have realised that we had their respect. They may have been giving us a hard time just to see if our faith was real not because they hated us or even that we were fools but to be sure our faith stacked up.

So if you want to have significant impact in your world, I would encourage you to take this passage to heart and discover what it means to rejoice always in the Lord, let your gentleness be known, don't worry pray and let God know your needs and get your thinking straight.  You cannot help but have impact if you will do these things.

Let us pray.

Sermon preached at Bellevue Baptist Church, Sunday morning 19th January 2003.

Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more