EASTER SUNDAY 2018

Selfless Sacrifice

(Philippians 2:5-11)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Millionaires are booming in the U.S.

 

Since 2008, the country has added 1.1 million millionaires to its roster – a growth rate of 28.6 percent.

 

What do they know that the 99% don’t?

 

There’s one key investing concept millionaires have mastered, according to Brent Fykes, a senior investment partner at GenSpring:

 

They know when to stop being greedy.

 

‘[Most average investors] tend to want to dabble in the stock market and buy the latest hot stock like Facebook or Apple,’ he told Bankrate.com.

 

On the other hand, wealthy investors ‘by nature are less risky because they’ve created a nest egg and don’t need it to grow at incredible rates . . . They just want to stay rich. ​​ On the whole, the 99 percent is in the get rich mode.’

 

This passage from Investopedia drives the point home:

Perhaps the No. 1 killer of investment return is your emotions. ​​ The axiom that fear and greed rule the market is true. ​​ Do not let fear or greed overtake you. ​​ Focus on the bigger picture. ​​ Stock market returns may deviate wildly over a shorter time frame, but over the long term, historical returns for large cap stocks can average 10 to 11%. ​​ Realize that, over a long time horizon, your portfolio’s returns should not deviate much from those averages. ​​ In fact, you may benefit from the irrational decisions of other investors.”

 

Mandi Woodruff, “Consider Greed The First Deadly Sin Of Investing,” http://www.businessinsider.com/greed-is-the-deadly-sin-of-investing-2013-3

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Envy

        • Envy is easy to fall into, especially in this age of technology

        • It’s not hard to do in the pastorate, because I see what other churches are doing and wish that we were able to do those same things here

        • If I allowed envy to have full reign in my life, it wouldn’t be long and I would become discontent here and begin looking for another church where I could serve

        • Envy can drive us to do things we wouldn’t normally do

          • Judy and I were on vacation one year and because of that we let our guard down

          • The sales representative played on our desire to have a nice place to stay when we went on vacation – something better than a hotel or motel room – something with multiple bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen, and living room

          • We were cautious, but still invested in something that we probably shouldn’t have

          • These deals are not easy to get out of – they’ve designed it that way on purpose

          • We were really envying how other people take vacations instead of being content with what we normally do

        • Those desires of envy boil down to the fact that I want to feed my own pride

    • Pride

        • Envy and pride go hand-in-hand

        • I want people to look up to me and consider me to be a success and a great leader

        • It’s the desire to be known that feeds pride in me

        • It’s a reflection of the sin of selfishness in my own life

        • This sin of selfishness can take many forms – envy/pride, greed, ambition/peer pressure

 

  • WE

    • Envy

        • Perhaps you struggle with envy in the position that you hold at work

          • It doesn’t make any sense how or why that other person got the promotion when you should have gotten it

          • You’re better at what you do than anyone else

          • When you allow envy to control you, you struggle with contentment at work

          • It affects your relationships with others

          • You can become paranoid of why people are doing and saying certain things

          • You can incorrectly read something into a statement or action that is said or done

        • As a young person your envy is primarily directed toward those at school

          • You wish your hair, eyes, body, teeth, etc. were like someone else’s

          • You wish that learning came as easy to you as it does to that really smart guy or girl in your class who always gets an “A” on the tests and throws off the grading curve

          • If you’re on a sports team, perhaps you envy the person who seems to be able to excel at the sport without trying very hard

    • Greed

        • Greed is defined as, “Excessive desire, especially for wealth or possessions.” ​​ [dictionary.com]

        • Maybe this form of selfishness is the one you’re struggling with

        • Everything you do is centered around making money so you can purchase things

        • The show Clean House highlighted those who had an excessive desire for possessions

          • The show helped families get their house in order

          • It also helped the family overcome some emotional issues that had led to the “mayhem and foolishness” as the host of the show always says

        • Envy can lead to greed

          • Perhaps you’ve done some things that you would not normally do in order to achieve greater wealth

          • You work out a business deal that will make you a bigger profit, but jeopardize the safety of your product – you just hope that most of them will be fine

          • Many times you will compromise your value system in order to achieve greater wealth or possessions

          • Maybe you work out a deal with your friends at school to help you fund a project or event that will benefit you the most – you use your influence and persuasive abilities to convince them that it will benefit them more than it actually will

          • You know that trading a certain toy with another boy or girl at school is not an equal trade, but will benefit you more than them, because you’ll receive the more valuable toy

        • This is a reflection of the sin of selfishness in your life

    • Ambition/Peer Pressure

        • Perhaps the driving force in your life is status or prestige

        • Greed many times accompanies ambition or prestige

        • Your desire to maintain the status you have may drive you to not do what’s right

        • You may begin to listen to the voices of those around you who’ve made you what you are today instead of listening to the truth of God’s Word or being confident in what you know is right

        • Your beliefs become skewed and tainted by what others think

        • You are no longer your own

    • Biblical examples

        • There were two individuals and one group who struggled with these sins of selfishness as it pertained to the life of Jesus and the final days before His death, burial, and resurrection

 

  • GOD

    • Selfishness

        • Judas Iscariot – Greed (John 12:4-6; Matthew 26:14-16)

          • Judas struggled with the sin of greed

            • John 12:4-6, But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? ​​ It was worth a year’s wages.” ​​ He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

            • When Mary anointed Jesus feet with perfume (pure nard), we see in John 12:4-6 that he was indignant and scolded Mary for being wasteful

            • He tried to sound spiritual by saying that the perfume could be sold and the proceeds used to help the poor

            • He knew the value of the perfume and how much money could be added to the disciples coffer

            • He was the one who took care of the money bag for the disciples and routinely helped himself to what was in there

            • His intentions were not pure, but rather greedy

          • Jesus scolds Judas for bothering Mary

            • No one really enjoys being corrected, but this is what happened to Judas in public

            • We then see in Matthew 26:14-16 that Judas meets with the chief priests and asks them what they are willing to give him in exchange for handing over Jesus

            • The chief priests count out 30 silver coins and gave them to him

            • From that point on he watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over

          • It was selfishness expressed through greed and perhaps pride that caused Judas to reject Jesus and follow Satan

        • Chief Priests – Envy/Pride (Matthew 26:59-68; 27:18)

          • Imagine being a chief priest in the Jewish tradition during this time

            • You were highly respected and rarely questioned if at all

            • Achieving this level of prestige was something that perhaps many Jewish priests aspired to

            • Everyone looked up to you and would listen to every word you had to say

            • You would teach, and people would take it as law

            • You had the power to influence people in any direction you desired

          • Jesus arrives on the scene

            • He begins to draw large crowds and people begin to follow Him and listen to every word He says

            • They are no longer listening to you

            • In fact, Jesus scolds you on multiple occasions in public, making you look foolish instead of intelligent

            • Even when you finally are able to arrest Jesus because of a traitor in his inner circle of 12, you can’t make any of the false accusations stick

            • You finally have to claim blasphemy as your reason for condemning Him to death, but your Jewish law doesn’t allow you to put anyone to death

            • You take Jesus before the Roman governor because the Roman law allows for death

            • The Roman governor tries to protect Jesus because he knows why the chief priests have handed Him over

            • Matthew 27:18, For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

            • The chief priests were jealous and envious of the power that Jesus exhibited not only in His teaching, but in His ability to heal people

            • They were envious of the fact that Jesus was doing things on the Sabbath that they, had been falsely taught for years, was wrong

          • It was selfish envy that caused the chief priests to reject Jesus as the Messiah and turn Him over to Pontius Pilate to be crucified

        • Pontius Pilate – Ambition/Peer Pressure (Matthew 27:15-26)

          • Questioning of Jesus

            • After talking with Jesus, Pilate knew that the trumped up charges of causing riots, claiming to be a king, and encouraging people not to pay taxes, were false

            • He wasn’t dull and was able to see through the smoke screen to the real reason the Jews brought Jewish to him – it was envy

            • That’s why Pilate stated multiple times that he found no basis to charge Jesus with any crime

          • Pilate’s wife

            • Pilate’s wife had a dream about Jesus that caused her great suffering

            • She encouraged Pilate not to have anything to do with an innocent man

          • Other avenues

            • Pilate tried desperately not to be a part of salvation history

            • He sent Jesus to Herod, so he wouldn’t have to make a decision

            • He tried offering to release Jesus or a real criminal and the Jews chose the real criminal, Barabbas, over Jesus

            • He tried washing his hands of the situation, so he would not be held accountable

          • The decision

            • Pilate’s final decision was made because of his selfish desire to remain as the governor instead of doing what he knew was right

            • Matthew 27:24-26, When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ​​ “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. ​​ “It is your responsibility!” ​​ All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” ​​ Then he released Barabbas to them. ​​ But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

            • John 19:12, From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. ​​ Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

            • Pilate had already been in trouble with Tiberius Caesar on at least two other occasions and he could not afford to be in trouble with him again

            • Caesar only allowed men to remain in positions of power who were able to maintain control of the people

            • So Pilate gave in to the will of the people

          • It was Pilate’s selfish desire to preserve himself and his status that caused him to reject Jesus and hand Him over to be crucified

    • Selflessness (Philippians 2:5-11)

        • Greed (2:5-6)

          • Philippians 2:5-6, Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus; Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, . . .

          • Jesus is the Son of God

          • He was there when the world was created

          • He knows about the riches of Heaven

          • He owns everything

          • He has unlimited power

          • Jesus sacrificed all of that for you

            • He set aside the right to his glory and power

            • Even as He suffered a horrible beating at the hands of Roman soldiers, He did not use His power to avoid it

            • As He suffered the brutal death of crucifixion on a cross, He could have called down angels from heaven to minister to Him but He chose not to

            • He showed no signs of an excessive desire for wealth or possessions

          • He was selfless

        • Ambition/Status (2:7)

          • Philippians 2:7, . . . but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

          • Jesus made Himself nothing

          • He took on the very nature of a servant

          • Jesus was selfless when it came to ambition or status

          • He did not allow what others thought about Him to affect what He came to do

            • Mark 8:31-33, He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. ​​ He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ​​ But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ​​ “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. ​​ “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

            • John 11:7-8, Then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” ​​ “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?”

          • He knew what was right and He followed through with it even though the Roman soldiers mocked Him and beat Him

        • Envy/Pride (2:8)

          • Philippians 2:8, And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

          • Jesus showed humility as He went to the cross

          • He didn’t let His deity stop Him from accomplishing His mission and goal

          • He wasn’t prideful about His position as the Son of God, but was willing to take on the essence of man in order to save you and me

          • Perhaps the chief priests wouldn’t have envied Jesus if they had understood who He was and why He had come to earth

          • Jesus selflessly became obedient to death on the cross

        • Jesus’ Exaltation (2:9-11)

          • Jesus death brought you victory, because His death destroyed the devil who holds the power of death (Heb. 2:14) ​​ [Stott, The Cross of Christ, 233]

          • Jesus’ resurrection vindicated Him and declared with power that He is the Son of God and that His death was effective for the forgiveness of sins [Stott, The Cross of Christ, 233]

          • Philippians 2:9-11, Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

  • YOU

    • Jesus died for your sin

        • If you’re struggling with the selfish sin of envy/pride, Jesus died to take your punishment

        • If you’re struggling with the selfish sin of greed, this excessive desire for wealth or possessions, Jesus paid your fine

        • If you’re struggling with the selfish sin of ambition/compromise, Jesus shed His blood so you could be set free

        • My greatest desire for you is that you’ll recognize all that God has done for you through His Son Jesus Christ

          • Romans 3:10-12, As it is written: ​​ “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. ​​ All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

          • Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

          • Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: ​​ While were still sinners, Christ died for us.

          • Romans 10:8-10, 13, But what does it say? ​​ “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: ​​ That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved . . . for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

        • You may be here today and can say that you know about God and you know what Jesus Christ did for you when He died on the cross, but there is something that is holding you back from giving your life completely to Him as your Savior

    • Rejecting Jesus

        • Judas, the Chief Priests, and Pontius Pilate all knew about God and saw Jesus face-to-face and yet they rejected Him

        • Perhaps it makes perfect sense to you why Judas Iscariot rejected Jesus

          • Maybe you are seeking true happiness by accumulating wealth or possessions

          • You may have the misconception that if you dedicate your life to Jesus Christ, that He will require you to sell all of your possessions or empty your bank accounts and give to the poor

          • You’re concerned that you’ll have to live like a pauper and never be happy

          • When Jesus comes into your life, He will change your desires to coincide with God’s purposes

          • The Holy Spirit will teach you how to deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23-24)

        • Maybe you continue to reject Jesus because of pride

          • You want to be in charge of your life

          • You don’t want anyone telling you what you can and cannot do

          • You view the Bible as God’s rule book and rules are meant to be broken

          • You don’t want to admit that you could use someone else’s help with the situation(s) you are currently going through

          • Perhaps you’ve seen answered prayer in someone else’s life, but you’re too prideful to experience it for yourself

        • You may be dealing with peer pressure, which has caused you to reject Jesus

          • You know what’s right to do, but you’re afraid of what your friends might think if you turn your life over to Jesus Christ

          • You’ve allowed them to influence how you think and act, but you’ve felt the leading of God’s Spirit in your life

          • He’s calling out to you to follow Him

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to read the Gospel of John in the Bible for the next month and ask God to reveal Himself to me.

 

  • WE

    • We have a responsibility as Christ followers to share this transformational Gospel with those in our sphere of influence

    • After Jesus’ resurrection, he stayed on the earth for 40 days, teaching His disciples

        • They were the ones who were going to carry the Gospel to the known world

        • Matthew 28:18-20, Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ​​ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. ​​ And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

        • These are our marching orders – Jesus is alive! ​​ The world needs to know

 

CONCLUSION

“In his best-selling book, The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey contrasts the humility that characterized Jesus’ royal visit to planet earth with the prestigious image associated with world rulers today:

 

In London, looking toward the auditorium’s royal box where the queen and her family sat, I caught glimpses of the…way rulers stride through the world: with bodyguards, and a trumpet fanfare and a flourish of bright clothes and flashing jewelry.

 

Queen Elizabeth II had recently visited the United States, and reporters delighted in spelling out the logistics involved: her four thousand pounds of luggage included two outfits for every occasion, a mourning outfit in case someone died, forty pints of plasma, and white kid-leather toilet seat covers. She brought along her own hairdresser, two valets, and a host of other attendants. A brief visit of royalty to a foreign country can easily cost twenty million dollars.

 

In meek contrast, God’s visit to earth took place in an animal shelter with no attendants present and nowhere to lay the newborn king but a feed trough. Indeed, the event that divided history, and even our calendars, into two parts may have had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could have stepped on him.”

 

Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Zondervan, 1995)

 

[http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1999/november/12115.html].

11

 

I AM A CHURCH MEMBER

Serving Church Members

(Philippians 2:1-11)

 

INTRODUCTION

Notice the restaurants shown on the screen (Burger King, Chili’s, Cracker Barrel, Chick-fil-A, Hoss’s, McDonalds, Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse, Panda Express, and Buffalo Wild Wings). ​​ We’re going to find out which one of these is your favorite this morning.

 

[Go through each logo and ask for a show of hands when the logo is large]

 

Did you see that not everyone has the same favorite restaurant? ​​ Some of you would never set foot in one of those restaurants, because the food style is repulsive to you. ​​ Your gag reflex is working right now as you think about that kind of food. ​​ It just turns your stomach. ​​ It’s fine for you to feel that way. ​​ Other people love that kind of food and are repulsed by other kinds of foods.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • I love food

        • I’ve always been willing to try just about any kind of food

        • As long as it won’t hurt me or kill me

        • I’ve eaten grasshoppers from Mexico

        • Baby octopus

        • Cubes of fat in Romania

        • I’ve tried menudo from a can (a spicy Mexican soup made with tripe, onions, tomatoes, chilies, and hominy)

    • Food wars

        • I’m sure that none of you have ever had to deal with this in your family

        • When our family eats out it’s difficult to decide where to go, because everyone has their favorite kind of food

          • The boys would be content to go to McDonalds every time

          • Judy and Seth would be fine with pizza every time

          • Wade, Levi, and I would willingly eat at a Chinese restaurant

          • There are no arguments about dessert, because everyone likes Rita’s and Sweet Frog

        • Sacrifice

          • While we don’t eat at McDonalds every time, Judy and I will sacrifice our preferences and eat there

          • There are times when Judy and Seth sacrifice their preferences and we eat at a Chinese restaurant

          • There are times when the boys sacrifice their preferences and eat at a restaurant that Judy and I enjoy

          • Why do we sacrifice our preferences?

          • It’s because we love each other and we want to encourage and express our love through allowing the other members of our family to enjoy the kind of food they like

 

  • WE

    • Leader always chose same place to eat

        • I heard a story about a leader who when he met with his team once a month would always choose the same restaurant to eat lunch at

        • The reason he did this was because he liked the restaurant and only came to the area once a month

        • The other team members didn’t mind, because they didn’t want to be the leader

    • Within the church

        • You and I are guilty of acting this way in the church

        • Thom Rainer’s team of researchers conducted a survey of churches who were inwardly focused – that means they were not serving past their own walls and their own members – the churches were largely self-serving

        • They found ten dominant behavior patterns of members in these churches:

          • Worship wars – one or more factions in the church want the music just the way they like it. ​​ Any deviation is met with anger and demands for change.

          • Prolonged minutia meetings – The church spends an inordinate amount of time in different meetings. ​​ Most of the meetings deal with the most inconsequential items, while the Great Commission and Great Commandment are rarely the topics of discussion.

          • Facility focus – The church facilities develop iconic status. ​​ One of the highest priorities in the church is the protection and preservation of rooms, furniture, and other visible parts of the church’s buildings and grounds.

          • Program driven – this isn’t bad unless the program becomes an end instead of a means to greater ministry.

          • Inwardly focused budget – a disproportionate share of the budget is used to meet the needs and comforts of the members instead of reaching beyond the walls of the church.

          • Inordinate demands for pastoral care – care and concern is important in times of need and crisis. ​​ Problems occur when church members have unreasonable expectations for even minor matters.

          • Attitudes of entitlement – the overarching attitude is one of demanding and having a sense of deserving special treatment.

          • Greater concern about change than the gospel – Almost any noticeable changes in the church evoke the ire of many; but those same passions are not evident about participating in the work of the gospel to change lives.

          • Anger and hostility – members are consistently angry. ​​ They regularly express hostility toward the church staff and other members.

          • Evangelistic apathy – very few members share their faith on a regular basis. ​​ More are concerned about their own needs rather than the greatest eternal needs of the world and community in which they live.

        • I can tell you today that I’ve been, and am guilty of some of these behavior patterns

        • I’m also confident that most of you have been or are guilty of some of these behavior patterns too

        • I don’t want you to be discouraged today

        • These things need to be discussed and the biblical solution needs to be shared

    • In good company

        • Jesus spent three years developing twelve disciples and they struggled and had a tendency to fight with one another

        • Mark 9:33-37, They came to Capernaum. ​​ When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” ​​ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. ​​ Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” ​​ He took a little child and had him stand among them. ​​ Taking him in his arms he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

        • Read Mark 10:35-45 [Bible marker #1]

        • Jesus mentioned it twice to His disciples

          • The way to become great is to humble yourself

          • The way to become great is to be a servant to all

          • To become a servant meant to sacrifice your preferences and desires in order to allow someone else to be honored

          • Jesus modeled this for His disciples right before His death, when he wrapped a towel around His waist and washed their feet at the Last Supper

          • But the greatest way Jesus modeled this for His disciples and for you and me is what we find in Philippians 2:1-11

 

BIG IDEA – Serving others means sacrificing self.

 

PRAY

 

  • GOD (Philippians 2:1-11)

    • Background

        • Paul is writing to the Philippian church because of a dispute that is happening there

        • It’s a dispute between Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2)

        • He is helping them to understand how to deal correctly with it

    • Blessings (v. 1)

        • Paul reminds the Philippian believers of the blessings of being in a Christian community

        • The Greek word translated in English as “If” also has the meaning in Greek of “since”

          • Paul is not questioning whether the believers have experienced these blessings or not

          • He is saying to them, “Since you have experienced these blessings from Christ, then this is what I want you to do.”

        • Encouragement

          • As followers of Jesus Christ we have been united with him

          • Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ​​ Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. ​​ For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. ​​ (Matthew 11:28-30)

          • Jesus offers for us to be yoked together with Him, so we can learn from Him

          • This promise from Jesus should bring encouragement to you today, especially if you feeling weary and have a heavy burden you’re carrying (financial, work, relational, health)

          • Jesus is there to help carry that burden, just yoke yourself to Him

          • Don’t keep trying to carry the burden alone

        • Comfort

          • This is referring to Christ’s love for His people

          • We know how He demonstrated that – it involved a rugged cross and mistreatment by those who were blind to the truth

          • Jesus willingly died on the cross for you and me – taking our punishment and paying our sin debt

        • Fellowship

          • It literally means “participation”

          • It is referring to participation with the Holy Spirit

        • Tenderness and compassion

          • The Greek word for tenderness literally means bowels, intestines

          • The bowels were considered as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the more tender affections, especially kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections)

        • The meaning of the verse seems clear: ​​ If there is any divine strength or support available ‘to those who are in Christ Jesus as you are (and there is); if there is any consolation or incentive which springs from your love (and Paul is confident there is); if participation in the Holy Spirit means anything (and it does); if there be in you any affectionate tenderness (and Paul is sure there is),’ then,” make my joy complete by being like-minded. [BBC, 316]

    • Unity (vv. 2-4)

        • Paul lists three characteristics that express the unity of the church

        • First, the same outlook

          • To be like-minded does not mean that you and I agree on everything or like all the same things

          • From a spiritual perspective it does mean that you and I have the same love as Christ did; having the same mind; cherishing the same views, valuing the same thing

          • Every evangelical denomination will agree on the tenets of the Gospel (who Jesus is and what He did)

          • . . . internal unity is necessary for holding back the destructive forces that would hinder the progress of the gospel.” ​​ [Thielman, 96]

          • Every believer in Jesus Christ should be like-minded when it comes to the Gospel

        • Second, humility

          • Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit

            • In literature prior to the New Testament, the term appears only in Aristotle’s Politica, where, in the course of discussing the various causes of political revolutions, the philosopher identifies one cause as the greedy grasp for public office through unjust means.” ​​ [Thielman, 97]

            • Vain conceit means empty pride – don’t do something just to build yourself up, which will lead to emptiness

          • In humility consider others better than yourselves

            • Before the New Testament era, the word “humility” had a negative connotation. ​​ The adjective related to it “was frequently employed, and especially so, to describe the mentality of a slave. ​​ It conveyed the ideas of being base, unfit, shabby, mean, of no account.” ​​ [Melick, 94]

            • Notice that it was used of the mentality of a slave

            • Jesus had told His disciples that they needed to become slaves of all

            • Paul is urging you and me to have the mentality of a slave when it comes to fellow believers; “count others as excelling over us.”

        • Third, consideration

          • Paul is not saying that you neglect yourself or your own interests

            • None of us has a problem taking care of ourselves

            • It’s a part of our American culture and psyche

            • One of our unalienable Rights is the pursuit of happiness – making ourselves happy

            • We pursue our own happiness more vigorously than perhaps anything else – it’s our right!

            • Much modern social and psychological theory is indebted to the notion that members of the human species, like all other animals, are involved in a relentless quest to dominate others in order to survive. ​​ So we not only enter the church with the belief that we deserve to be made happy but often with the notion that our pursuit of happiness at the expense of others is inevitable.” ​​ [Thielman, 106]

        • [Paul] sees [the church] as a group of individuals who, despite their differences, are willing to show love for one another through putting the well-being of others first.” [Thielman, 103]

        • Serving others means sacrificing self.

    • Jesus example (vv. 5-8)

        • Being Christ-like (v. 5)

          • How many of you would say that you want to be Christ-like

          • Isn’t it what every follower of Jesus Christ should desire?

          • But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ​​ To him be glory both now and forever! ​​ Amen. ​​ (2 Peter 3:18)

          • One of the ways to be Christ-like is with your attitude

          • Paul says that our attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus

        • What was Christ’s attitude? (vv. 6-8)

          • First, we have to understand that He was fully God and fully man

            • He didn’t give up His deity to become a man

            • He set aside the right to His glory and power

            • In submission to God’s will, Christ limited His power and knowledge – He didn’t try to hold on to it

            • What made His humanity unique was His freedom from sin

            • Jesus willingly sacrificed heaven in order to come to earth to redeem the world

          • Second, He took the form of a servant

            • When Jesus came to earth, He didn’t come into earthly royalty

            • He wasn’t born in a palace

            • He didn’t grow up to reign over the Roman Empire or even a portion of the Roman Empire

            • As a human being, He was born into a family where His earthly father was a carpenter – not a particularly high social position

            • By taking the form of a servant He revealed the true meaning of service.” ​​ [BBC, 320]

            • His death on a cross was reserved for individuals who were from the lower classes

            • The only reason a Roman citizen would have ever been considered to be crucified would have been for high treason

            • Death by crucifixion was below the social status of the rich and privileged

            • Even though Jesus was God the Son and had more power and authority than all the Roman rulers, He sacrificed all of that in order to die a servants death

            • He obediently followed the will of His Father

          • Jesus attitude

            • His attitude was one of humility and love

            • In His humility, He sacrificed everything so you could enjoy life

            • It’s through His death, burial, and resurrection that you can truly enjoy your life here on earth

            • It’s through His death, burial, and resurrection that you can enjoy eternal life when He returns

            • John 3:14-15, Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

 

  • YOU

    • Salvation

        • Perhaps you’ve hesitated to believe in Jesus Christ, because you’re unwilling to sacrifice something in your life

        • Maybe you’re afraid that believing in Jesus will mean that you can no longer have any fun

        • When you believe in Jesus and repent and turn from your sin, Jesus transforms you

        • You now have the power of the Holy Spirit living in you to give you the strength to sacrifice old habits, old friends, and old attitudes

        • You will find joy in serving Jesus!

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life.

    • Spiritual growth

        • As followers of Jesus Christ, you and I should be striving each day to have the same attitude of humility and servant hood that Jesus did

        • As biblical church members, you and I should be giving, serving, putting others first

          • We should be doing whatever it takes to keep the unity in our church

          • You should always ask first what you can do for your church

          • Maybe you’ve been doing this, but you’re frustrated by those whose attitude is not Christ-like

          • These individuals are the ones that God has asked you to serve

          • When you’re tired of sacrificing for others in the church, remember the cross

          • You can’t do it in your own strength – it’s you and God together

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Pray for God’s strength and wisdom as I strive to have the attitude of Christ while serving those within Idaville Church

        • Perhaps you’ve been struggling with having a Christ-like attitude and you’re more characterized by what the leader did in insisting on eating at the same restaurant every time

          • You’ve been struggling with sacrificing your own personal preferences within the church

          • God’s desire is that everyone be brought to salvation and that none are lost

          • Being obedient to the Great Commission and Great Commandment sometimes requires changes in order to reach the next generation for Christ

          • It requires that you and I sacrifice our preferences in music, programs, our buildings and grounds, and many other areas

          • . . . no sacrifice of our own comparatively paltry rights as human beings seems too great to make in order that the gospel might be advanced.” ​​ [Thielman, 128]

          • Allow yourself to be “overwhelmed by Jesus’ undeserved love for you that caused Him to sacrifice everything – including His preferences . . .” ​​ [Rainer, 40]

          • Keeping that in mind will enable you to do that for others

          • You can’t do this on your own – it has to be you and God

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask God to help me see where I need to sacrifice my preferences so the Great Commission can be accomplished through Idaville Church

 

  • WE

    • As you and I obediently follow the will of God by having the same attitude as Christ by serving those within our church and sacrificing our preferences, then several incredible things will happen

        • We will experience joy and unity here at church

        • On the final day, God will respond to the lives of his obedient servants with commendation, just as he responded to Christ’s obedient life (Phil. 2:9-11) [Thielman, 128]

 

CONCLUSION

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis provides a helpful description of how the fallible believer can be more like Christ amid the give and take of everyday life.

 

It helps . . . to pretend to be Jesus, just as a child might pretend to be a soldier or a shopkeeper. ​​ Just as the child’s imaginary games help the child to develop skills that will later be useful as a real soldier or shopkeeper, so the ‘game’ of pretending to be Christ inevitably reveals to the believer places for improvement and guides the believer toward spiritual maturity. . . .The minute we realize we are dressing up like Christ, we will discover ways in which our pretense could become reality. ​​ We will be embarrassed to discover thoughts that Christ would not have had and unfulfilled duties that Christ would not have neglected. ​​ Those realizations . . . should in turn prompt us to more complete obedience.” ​​ [Thielman, 130].

 

 

The Third Pledge

 

I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires. ​​ That is self-serving. ​​ I am a member in this church to serve others and to serve Christ. ​​ My Savior went to a cross for me. ​​ I can deal with any inconveniences and matters that just aren’t my preference or style.

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