Shine brightly with the attitude of Christ

October 8, 2017

Summary

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We are going to continue with our series of messages from Philippians. This week we are up to chapter two and the title is, “Shine brightly with the attitude of Christ”.

Last week in our message Living wholeheartedly for Christ from chapter one we saw four main ideas…

  1. Paul was thankful for the Philippians and he prayed that they would grow in their faith.
  2. Paul was thankful that Christ was being preached. Even though he was in prison.
  3. Paul lived his life for Christ. To Paul to live is Christ, to die is gain.
  4. Paul asked them to live as citizens of heaven. He wanted them to represent Christ well.

This week we will have four points again.

Bible Reading

Philippians 2:1-30 – Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?  2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.  3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  6 Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  7 Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, 8 He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  9 Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.  14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.  16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.  17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.  18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. 19 If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along.  20 I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare.  21 All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ.  22 But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News.  23 I hope to send him to you just as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me here.  24 And I have confidence from the Lord that I myself will come to see you soon.  25 Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need.  26 I am sending him because he has been longing to see you, and he was very distressed that you heard he was ill.  27 And he certainly was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him–and also on me, so that I would not have one sorrow after another.  28 So I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to see him, and then I will not be so worried about you.  29 Welcome him with Christian love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve.  30 For he risked his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while doing for me what you couldn’t do from far away.

Main Points

Today I want to share four main points that spoke to me as I was studying this passage this week.

1. Having the attitude of Christ

Philippians 2:1-11. It is titled, “Having the attitude of Christ”. It contains a number of ideas.

a. Be unified

Paul urges the believers to be unified in Christ. He asks them to make him happy by “agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working    together with one mind and purpose” (v2).

Being unified is about loving and caring for each other, putting differences aside and working together in our joint Kingdom purpose. Jesus prayed for His followers in John 17. He prayed that we might be one as He and the Father are one. So being unified is very important to both Jesus and Paul. Therefore, it needs to be important to us.

Being unified does not always mean we will agree on every issue. But it means we chose to put Christ and unity of faith above our issues or personal beliefs.

A.W. Tozer, in his book the The Pursuit of God said this about unity. “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So, one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.

b. Be interested in others

Verses 3 says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others too”.

Life is not just about you and me as individuals. It is about all of us. When I fall into selfish patterns I don’t look out for others. I can be concerned about my interests only. Jesus lived in a constant mission of the Father. He was interested in others to the point of sacrificing all. As we have seen in the last year. He travelled miles for the just the one person.

c. Be humble

Verses 7-8 says, “Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross”.

Christ left the glories of heaven to live in this world. He took a lowly place of a servant and even died a “criminal’s death” for our sin. His humility paved the way for our salvation. If Christ showed that humility, what do I have to be proud of?

Years ago Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, was scheduled to speak at a Large Presbyterian church in Melbourne, Australia. The moderator of the service introduced the missionary in eloquent and glowing terms. He told the large congregation all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as “our illustrious guest.” Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.” (W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers, p. 243.)

So today, let us be unified in Christ’s mission, be interested in others above ourselves and be humble in all we do. Let us understand we are little servants connected to an awesome God.

2. Shine brightly for Christ

Verses 12-18 is the next section. It is titled, “Shine brightly for Christ”.

In verse 12 he says, “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear”.

In this passage Paul encourages the Philippians to continue on living right. He says they did well when he was with them, but it is important to keep it up while he is away.

As I read this passage it took me back to my primary school days. When the teacher was in the classroom with us, everyone behaved well. When the teacher left us alone, some of the kids (including me!) misbehaved. We would all sit down nicely before the teacher returned!

So, the Philippians stayed on track while he was away (unlike my school friends and I!) Paul urged them to…

  • Work hard to show the results of their salvation (v12)
  • Obey God with deep reverence and fear (v12)
  • Do everything without complaining and arguing (v14)
  • Live clean, innocent lives as children of God (v15)
  • Hold firmly to the word of life (v16)

If they continued to do these things Paul knew they would be on track. He wanted them to be a witness to the world in the way they lived. He wanted them to shine brightly in the midst of the crooked world around them.

So today, let us remember to shine brightly and be a good example in the way we live. As we do remember “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (v13). In chapter 1 we saw that God will continue the work He started in us too (1:6)

3. Paul commends Timothy

In the next section in our Bibles “Paul commends Timothy”.

In this passage the Apostle Paul speaks highly of Timothy to the Philippians. In verse 12 we see he Paul wants to send Timothy to them to see how they are going.

Bible scholars tell us that Timothy had already been to Philppi. Timothy accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey when the church was planted. So, some would have known him, but not all.

In his recommendation Paul says three encouraging things about Timothy…

a. That he really cares for the Philippians.

In verse 20 he says, “I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare”.

b. That he cares for Christ’s work.

Verse 21 says, “All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ”.

c. That he served Paul well.

Verse 22 says, “But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News”.

This is a great recommendation! One that most of us would be proud of. In it we see that Timothy really cares for the Philippians, he cares for Christ’s work and he serves Paul and the Gospel like a son serving his father.

When I read this passage, I can see why Paul love his “spiritual” son in the faith so much. He was a great young man with lots of potential and he really cared about what mattered to God.

4. Paul commends Epaphroditus

In previous verses Paul commended Timothy. In verses 25-30 he commends Epaphroditus.

a. Commends him for his work

Verse 25 says, “Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need”.

The church at Philippi took up an of offering for Paul while he was in prison in Rome. This was to help him through his time of need. The church sent Epaphroditus to deliver the offering and stay with Paul for a while.

Paul really appreciated the offering from the church he planted on his second missionary journey. In Philippians 4:18 he calls it a “sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God”.

Paul also appreciated Epaphroditus coming and being with him. As we see above he described him as a true brother, a co-worker, a fellow soldier, and a messenger in his need. Often when we have been away from home serving God for a while, there is great joy catching up with someone from home.

b. Paul commends him back to the church

In the final section of verses 29-30 Paul commends him back to the church and Philippi and asks them to recognise his great work…

“Welcome him with Christian love and with great joy, and give him the honour that people like him deserve. For he risked his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while doing for me what you couldn’t do from far away”.

Honoring people who served well was a big part of the early church. We see this in the commending of both Timothy and Epaphroditus. I believe it is something we should continue to practice today.

Closing summary

Today we looked at Philippians chapter two and saw four main points.

  1. Have the attitude of Christ – be unified, be interested in others, be humble
  2. Shine brightly for Christ – continue to shine whether Paul is with them or not
  3. Paul commended Timothy – he cared for the Philippians, he cared for Christ’s work, he helped Paul greatly
  4. Paul commended Epaphroditus – a true brother, a co-worker, a fellow soldier, and a messenger in his need

Amen