Summary: Sermon #2 of the Philippians series from Philippians chapter 2 deals with examples of the kind of joyful attitude we need to develop.
A JOYful Attitude
CHCC: November 9, 2008
For the next few weeks, we’re looking at the book of Philippians … a book full of JOY written by a man who was in PRISON. If anyone can be an example to us of how to have JOY as Christians … it is Paul. In Chapter 2, Verse 1 Paul says: 1, If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2,then make my joy complete …
I have to stop right there because when Paul says make my joy complete … it made me think of something. Do any of you remember the old = “Dirty Harry” move where the actor, Clint Eastwood points a huge pistol at the bad guy and says “Go ahead, make my day.”
That’s kind of what Paul’s saying here. Make my joy complete could be paraphrased make my day (but in a good way.) (Work with me here … My wife told me the only reason I’d make that analogy is that I’m just an overgrown middle school boy. But you other overgrown middle school boys can relate to it…)
Paul goes on to use some very direct advice on how we can have JOY in our own lives and how we can have a JOY-filled Church.
The first piece of advice is this: STOP DIVIDING and start UNITING.
1. From DIVIDING to UNITING
… make my joy complete … by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2:2
A few years back I took a course in Hebrew. I learned a lot about the language, but the main thing I have memorized is a song:
Yenay mathovum anayeem, sheviat acheem gam yahad
Which means “How Good, how blessed, for brothers to dwell together in unity!” From Psalm 133:1
I remember that because I have a musical brain, but also because the message is so true. In my 36 years of ministry I’ve experienced what a JOY it is when people dwell together in unity.
On the other hand, I’ve also experienced the pain and frustration of dealing with people who would rather DIVIDE the congregation than find ways to be united.
Many years back I read a book called Games People Play, by Eric Berne. To tell you the truth, I went looking for that book because I was trying to figure out how to deal with some trouble makers who seemed to be dead set on causing division in the church. The book helped me understand the kinds of wrong ATTITUDES that cause DIVISION between people who should be working together as the body of Christ.
One of the Games People Play was called “let’s you and them fight.” Have you ever met someone who plays that game? This is the person who tells you something negative they heard someone else say about you. The goal is to get you and them going at each other. Years ago I had an elder at a former church who seemed to take delight in telling me negative things others had said to him about me. For a while I let him punch my hot buttons, but once I learned what he was really up to I began to ignore everything he told me and spent as little time around him as possible. I found out that he was a trouble starter.
I also remember years ago, standing at the church door next to the sr. minister greeting people at the end of the service. This one guy, every week would come up to the minister and say, “Pastor, you’d better keep your eye on that youth minister or some day he’ll have your job.” Now, he meant that as a joke, but it became a very tedious joke when he kept repeating it each week. Sadly, that, and foolish talk by others in the church eventually drove a wedge between me and the minister that eventually destroyed our working relationship. I wish now that I had pulled that man aside and told him. “Stop it! It’s not funny any more and it is harmful talk.”
The solution to that is to do what Paul said. Learn how to work together with the same spirit and purpose. After all, we represent Christ. I can’t think of anything worse we can do than fighting with each other. Have you ever noticed that two brothers can be arguing and fighting all the time --- but if you come up to them and take the side of one over the other, they will probably close ranks and both of them will come against you!
That’s a natural kind of unity for those who are related to each other. In the church, we are part of the same family. The Unity of the Spirit should be evident in everything we say and do. If we are more interested in God’s Will and God’s purposes than in our own preferences, we will be a church filled with the JOY that comes from UNITY.