Sermons

Summary: Fools respond to all situations in the same way; solid Christians adjust.

A Time to Stand and A Time to Negotiate

(Philippians 4:1-3)

1. Sometimes compromise is a virtue: A New York family bought a ranch out West where they intended to raise cattle. Friends visited and asked if the ranch had a name. "Well," said the would-be cattleman, "I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one son liked the Flying-W, and the other wanted the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the Bar-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y." "But where are all your cattle?" the friends asked. "None survived the branding." (www.higherpraise.com)

2. Other times, compromise is nothing less than cowardice or lack of conviction: Many denominations play at church because they have lost their convictions by first tolerating clergy who did not believe the Bible was the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

3. Every situation is different, and there is a big difference between conviction and stubbornness, between important truths and truths that are less important. Stubborn people respond to all situations by digging in; people pleasers are ready to do whatever it takes to keep the peace. But God calls us to a more reasonable standard.

Main Idea: Fools respond to all situations in the same way; solid Christians adjust.

TS-? Paul contrasts two such situations for us.

I. When to Stand FIRM (1)

A. Paul really cares about these people

1. As I read Paul, I do not think he was a very emotional man

2. I do not picture him, hands raised in the air and emoting for an hour

3. Even though he was masculine, he got attached to and cared about people; there is nothing uniquely feminine about caring; indeed, that is why the best evidence of masculinity is when they risk their lives to protect women and children…

B. He also considers them his reward in ministry

9For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? I Thessalonians 2:19

"Paul uses the ancient Greek word for crown which describes the crown given to an athlete who has won the race. It is a crown of achievement (a stephanos); not the crown that is given to a king (a diadema). The Philippians, as they stand fast in the Lord, are Paul’s ’trophy.’" (source: Guzik)

C. But what does Paul mean about “this is how you should stand firm?”

1. Against the dogs, the legalists?

2. Against the lawless ones?

3. By craving to know Christ, the fellowship of His sufferings, and His resurrection power?

4. By forgetting what is past and straining toward God’s goal for our lives?

5. By looking not only on your own things, but also the things of others?

6. By adopting the motto, “To live is Christ and to die is gain?”

7. By conducting ourselves in a manor worthy of the Gospel?

8. By mentoring ourselves after balanced, godly people?

9. The answer is “all of the above.”

D. What are the alternatives to standing firm?

1. Abandoning CHRIST

2. Abandoning LIVING for Christ

3. VACILLATING

“There are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands.”

G.K. Chesterton (higherpraise.com)

4. COMPROMISING when inappropriate

5. INDIFFERENCE or chosen naiveté (passivity/obliviousness)

“Over recent months, I’ve taught worldview to groups of bright young students. With each group, I had the same distressing experience. When I presented a classic example of a self-refuting moral proposition, they just didn’t get it.

An example: The late Christopher Reeve, in his wheelchair with a breathing tube, was testifying before a Senate committee. Reeve dismissed moral objections to embryonic stem-cell research, claiming that the purpose of government is "to serve the greatest good for the greatest number."

I then asked the students, "What’s wrong with this picture?" When I got no answers I dropped heavy hints. Only one student gave the correct answer: If what Reeve advocated actually were our governing philosophy, he would not have been there to testify. Who would spend millions to keep him alive when that money could help thousands?

I don’t know whether the students lacked analytical skills or were just confused, but when I explained the inherent contradiction, the lights went on. When I discussed the concept of absolute truth, and the fact that it is knowable, there was an occasional nod of understanding, but it was clear I was breaking new ground. These students, mind you, were products of Christian homes and schools.

This lack of worldview awareness is appalling—but it’s exactly what George Barna has found in his recent polls: Just 9 percent of evangelical students believe in anything called absolute truth. What does this say about the job our schools, our families, and our churches are doing?” (Chuck Colson) (www.higherpraise.com)

E. Why do so many Christians cave in under pressure?

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