Summary: Catch your balance. Steady yourself. Above is supposed to describe us. Don’t look down . . . DON’T LIVE DOWN!
Pt. 2 – Above Below
Above. As I mentioned last week there are certain meanings that come to mind instantly. Above . . . perspective, looking down on, higher than. Above . . . prominence and higher in order. Above . . . distance. Above speaks to perspective and position!
Last week we dealt with Proverbs 4:23 in which Solomon, the wisest man, told us that above everything else we should guard our heart. He knew that our heart is deceitful and from it comes all manner of destruction. More than you guard your house, your car, your identity, or anything else you have to guard your heart. How do you do that? According to Solomon you do so by guarding your mouth, your eyes, and your feet! What you say, see and where you go directly impact your heart condition.
This morning I want us to journey into another “above” statement that has significant implications for how we live our daily Christian life. This passage is a passage that should haunt us. It should overshadow every decision, every choice, and be in our minds in every moment of our life. It can be found in
Text: Philippians 2:14-16
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
Paul writes a letter to the believers in Philippi and gives them practical advice on how to live above below. Did you catch the “above” statement that speaks to living below? This passage should be the measuring stick for our behavior, our actions, our decision making? Here it is . . . “prove yourselves to blameless and innocent, children of God ABOVE reproach”! He even goes on to say that he knows we are surrounded by messed up folks, but that is no excuse for letting down our guard or our standard of holiness. In fact, it is because we are surrounded by this that we are instructed to live above reproach!
Reproach simply, but profoundly means “Blame, discredit, disgrace”. In other words, Paul is saying we should live our lives in such a way that we don’t bring any blame, discredit, or disgrace to ourselves, Jesus, or our church!
Paul would have shouted Plato down when one of Plato’s friends told him about a terrible charge that had been leveled against the famous philosopher. Knowing it was not true, his friend said, "What are we going to do?" Plato replied, "We must simply live in such a way that all people will know it is false."
Paul would have been Will Rogers “Amen Corner” when he quipped, “So live that you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.”
That is in essence the concept that Paul was trying to communicate when he said, “Live above reproach.” He is trying to teach us that we should stop and think before everything we do because what we do directly reflects on who’s we are!
With this challenge from Paul I want to say a few things to you about living ABOVE reproach.
1. Bad attitudes make Jesus look bad!
Did you catch what Paul says? Do all things without grumbling or disputes and thus prove that we really are the children of God. Why is it that Christians have the worst attitudes? Why is that Christians claim that Jesus has enough power to wash our souls clean, but not enough power to stop our gripy, argumentative, and murmuring, always have to have the last word attitudes? Our bad attitude makes Jesus look bad! It discredits Him. If we can prove our legitimacy, then it is also feasible to disprove our standing by how we conduct ourselves! Your heart has to be right, but so does your attitude! If you heart change wasn’t dramatic enough to change your attitude, then was there really any change?
2. Earn the benefit of doubt.
Most of the bad things people believe about us would be dismissed without a second thought if we would live our lives so far above that no one would believe we were capable of living below. We live so below they believe worst. One of the greatest benefits I have is the benefit of doubt. Had a guy call me one time and he said, “someone is quoting you as saying this did you say it?” I said, “No”. His response, “I knew it. That doesn’t sound like you.” I had earned the benefit of the doubt. By the way you don’t earn that benefit in one day!