Reminders and Exortation
Good morning and let me welcome you once again to this meeting of Hope Bible Fellowship. As every week, it’s a joy and privilege to be here with you opening the Word of God. Go ahead and open your Bible to Philippians 2 and find verses 1-4. If you would like to follow along with our interactive sermon guide, you can just scan this QR code with your phone’s camera and it will give you a link to our outline where you can follow along and take notes. It will also give you the option to get a copy for you to keep.
We will cover these four verses today and then take a break from Philippians till the beginning of the new year so that we can begin our Christmas series. This year’s Christmas series is called Christmas Playlist. I love preaching in the Advent season and this series has me really excited. I hope you will join us and I hope you will invite someone to come along with you. Our Christmas Eve service will be themed around What Child is This and is looking to be a really joyous time. It will be Christmas Eve at 5:30.
With that said, let’s turn our attention back to the letter of the Apostle Paul to the church in Philippi.
Let me ask you this question to get our minds and hearts moving a little bit. What is it that gets in the way of you serving others? What is it that at the very root gets in the way of serving Christ and others in the way that scripture speaks of?
The answer of course is sin but specifically, self centeredness. Our devotion to our own interests over and above anyone else’s including the Lord’s keeps us from serving. That is what the scripture talks about today. Follow along as I read from the Word of the Lord.
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
These four verses are going to lead directly into the hymn we find in verses 5-11 which shows Jesus as the ultimate example of selfless love. So when we revisit this letter at the start of the year we will be rolling into talking about Christ’s ultimate example of humility.
But first in this passage we notice Paul encouraging them in the certainty of the blessings they have in Christ.
I. Certainty of the blessings we have in Christ
I. Certainty of the blessings we have in Christ
Now, in your translation the word “if” probably appears before this list of things that are theirs in Christ. Paul’s not questioning if the Philippians have these things. He’s using a type of tool of speech to point out that because they actually do have these things, they should complete his joy by demonstrating this unity that he goes on to talk about.
If Christians can not live unified, sharing the same attitude or mindset, then the power of the gospel to transform comes into question. When this happens, our message, the glorious gospel can lose credibility with unbelievers. Whereas, when we are unified, God is glorified and the gospel is more credible to them. It’s like, when we do things in accordance with what we say… people are more likely to believe it. I fear that sometimes we are hypocrites in that we do the other things of scripture but we don’t champion unity with one another.
encouragement in Christ - the blessing of knowing Christ and being found in Him. The gift of faith. There is nothing to lift our spirits more than knowing that we are found in Christ! Even though we go through pain, suffering, and trials of many kinds, we find great encouragement in our relationship with Jesus.
comfort from love - the love of Christ that comforts us. We know God’s love and that love, His love makes us love others. The more deeply we become keenly aware of the love of Christ for us, we will more abundantly love others.
participation in the Spirit - the greek word that is sometimes translated as fellowship is the same that we found in verse 5 of chapter 1.
5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
The Holy Spirit unites us. He unites us as brothers and sisters in the family of God. He makes us partners in the gospel and helps our weaknesses.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
We worship God by the Spirit.
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—
Why would Paul just write these things in this letter to these people? In fact, he knew that that the Philippian church was facing possible disunity. The threat was real. Here he reminds them that the fellowship they have, the partnership they have, the koinania, they share is Spirit-produced and not from their own working.
affection and sympathy
The affection and mercy or sympathy that has been shown to us, comes for the infinite source of these. He’s the God of all compassion. We get to share, as Merida writes, being “the objects of God’s compassion.” The tender care that He shows to us should cause us to be on the lookout for the best interest of other people, especially those who are members of the body of Christ. For a picture of this, we need look no further than Epaphroditus.
25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
of the source of unity
The reason that we get to experience these incredible blessings is because they are believers. We get to share in them too if we have trusted in Jesus Christ. If you have heard and believed the gospel message:
If you have believed this good news and repented of your sin then you too get to share in these incredible blessings and can rejoice in them. Paul’s communication style here is a sign of how he feels about this group of Christians. He is warm and speaks pastorally to them and relishes their blessings before he gets to the part where he’s exhorting them.
Tony Merida says, “If all you ever do is tell people what they’re supposed to be doing, then they will get burned out. Remind people of the blessings while giving them the imperatives. Do this for your own soul, and do this for other Christians.”
Some churches that you go to, you get a bunch of things “to do.” People don’t need an endless list of religious things to do. Yes, there are definite commands in scripture but we need to constantly be reminded of the blessings we have in Christ because out of that will flow our spirit produced activity.
When we talk about unity, we are not speaking of uniformity. However, we should be consistently unified in Christ. Let’s talk about the consistency in our unity.
II. Consistency in our Unity
II. Consistency in our Unity
The Same mind - In order to be united the church should have the same mentality.
They should put away their rivalries and small disagreements and preference fights and set their sights on their common mission and remember their identity in Christ.
Christ like humility - In chapter one, Paul had mentioned the preachers who were movitvated wrongly by rivalry. Here, Paul tells the church as a whole to avoid this kind of attitude. If you have rivalry in a church, it will tear the congregation apart. It divides people. As such, each member of the church should be aware of rivalry when it’s present and doing it’s thing and kill it. We as followers of Jesus are to be about his glory and not our own. We should rejoice when God uses someone else to advance His kingdom and proclaim the Lord Jesus.
Conceit - Greek word for conceit is translated - vain glory, vain conceit in some translations. This is empty glory. Fake glory. It’s glory that doesn’t exist. One scholar wrote that “people are literally conceited over nothing!”
The total opposite of this is Jesus Christ. He had all glory. Real glory. And for your sake and my sake, He humbled Himself, even to death on a cross. Our culuture tells you to chase the approval of men and the “likes” of people you don’t even know. But Jesus teaches us to work for God’s glory and the advancement of the gospel. In this we willl never be disappointed.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
A church will never truly be unified if the people do not walk in humility. There is too much in us that wants to fight for prominence and our wants and our ways. We want the special honors. But when we humble ourselves and put the needs of others above our own, then we will see unity break out in the church.
This brings us to the final point this morning which is cease to be self-serving.
III. Cease self service
III. Cease self service
Look not to your own interests
but to the interests of others
C.S. Lewis’s description of a humble person:
Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all. (Mere Christianity, 128)
serve humbly because you are confident in the certainty you have in the blessings you have in Christ and consistent in unity…
Am I competing for people’s attention and approval?
Do I find it difficult or easy to rejoice in the success of others?
Am I conceited?
Do I think I’m superior to people?
Am I concerned with the needs of others?
1. Look to the cross.
- Pride dies at the cross. There’s no room for it there.
2. Seek Him in the Word.
Reflect on what you see and humbly submit. Meditate on the greatness of God.
3. Prayer. When we lack humility, we often find prayerlessness is the result. Humble yourself before God regularly in prayer and cast your cares on Him.
4. Serve other people. Be like the early Christians. Be Christian. Serve humbly.
Behold the man upon a cross, My sin upon His shoulders; Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice Call out among the scoffers. It was my sin that held Him there Until it was accomplished; His dying breath has brought me life – I know that it is finished.
Stuart Townsend “How Deep the Father’s Love”