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Summary: Our Christian faith and values are always being flavored by the culture. It is so subtle that we do not even realize it, and that is why the Bible often has to be so radical to jar us awake to the fact that we are to be different from the world.

William Stidger, the great preacher, was in France during World

War I, and he visited the city of Marseilles where he saw the

aqueduct that all visitors are guided to see. The story of this source

of water to the city goes back to the old man who became known as

the miser of Marseilles. He walked the streets saving every piece of

junk he could find, and he hoarded his money. He was hated, for he

was considered the freak of the community. He was so despised that

when he died there was only one person at his funeral. What a

shock it was to all when his will was read and made public. Let me

share what it said.

"From my infancy I noticed that the poor people of Marseilles

had great difficulty in getting water. I noticed that water the

gift of God, was very dear and difficult to obtain. And when

they could get that water, it was not as pure and clean as God

intended it to be. Therefore I vowed before God that I would live but

for one purpose, for one end. I would save money, money,

money; that I might give it to the city on one condition: That an

aqueduct be built to bring fresh, pure water from yonder lake

in the hills to Marseilles. That I now make possible by leaving

all my hoarded wealth to this city. This is my last will and

testament."

The people have now had pure water for decades because of a

man who thought not only of his own interest, but of the interest of

others. Like Jesus, he became despised and rejected of men that he

might provide for them the water of life. Let's face it, there is not a

lot of this going around, but Paul writes to the Philippian Christians

and implies this is to be a part of the normal Christian life. This is

not for super-duper saints, but for every member of the body of

Christ.

To be a Christian is to be Christlike, and that means to be

self-sacrificing rather than self-centered. This is not a popular

message in a culture where self-centeredness is the essence of the

cultural religion. All through history Christianity has been corrupted

by taking on the flavor of the popular religions in its

environment, just as Israel did all through its history. There is

nothing new under the sun, and so the process continues, and all of

us are affected by it. Our Christian faith and values are always

being flavored by the culture. It is so subtle that we do not even

realize it, and that is why the Bible often has to be so radical to jar

us awake to the fact that we are to be different from the world.

The Christlike life is no easy mark to hit. We have to go against

the grain of culture, and our own natural tendencies to even get

close. It is no big deal to be religious. You can do that with a

minimum of effort and nearly no sacrifice. Paul is not challenging

anybody to be religious, but to be like Christ, and to do this we have

to face up honestly to the problem and the solution. First look at:

I. THE PROBLEM.

Verse 3 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain

conceit." This is a good verse to illustrate how you can prove

anything from the Bible by taking its words out of context. Paul

actually says, "Do nothing." If you stop there and do not finish the

sentence, that becomes the message, "Do nothing." All that is

necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Yet

Paul says, "Do nothing." You can see how easy it is to pervert the

Word of God, and anyone else's words if you take them out of

context. It is done all the time, and you have a responsibility to

make sure of the context before you judge another's words. This is

especially true if you hear them from a critic, for critics love to quote

out of context.

Paul is not saying that we are to do nothing. He is saying that we

are to do nothing with these two most popular motives of the world:

Selfish ambition and vain conceit. The word for selfish ambition

refers to the strive and quarreling Christians go through because

they want their own way. In other words, it is fighting for my

perspective without concern for the rest of the body. This

self-centered perspective, where the only goal is self-satisfaction, not

the welfare of the body, is a major problem. Where is exists

Christlikeness does not exist.

When you read of Christians being terrible to each other, and

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