Summary: How do "live for Christ"? Do we only do that when things are going our way? Or is our faith deeper and more focused on our love for Him?
OPEN: A young man’s fiancé had broken off their engagement. But a couple of months later, he received the following letter from her:
No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our engagement.
Please say you’ll take me back.
No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me.
I love you, I love you, I love you! Yours forever, Marie.
P.S.: And congratulations on willing the state lottery.
APPLY: How many of you believe that her words of love don’t ring quite true?
She SAID she loved him.
She SAID she wanted him back
But it was fairly obvious it wasn’t him she really wanted.
She was willing to love him because he had lots of money. But once the money was gone – so would she.
For her – to live was the lottery.
For her – to live was the value of his wealth and the blessings that would bring to her.
But she really didn’t really love. And she didn’t really want to live for him.
Hers was a “fair-weather” love. In other words, as long as the weather was fair and pleasant, she’d be faithful.
Too often, Christians can respond to God in the same way.
As long as God does what we ask…
As long as He answers our prayers the way we want them answered…
As long as life goes exactly the way we believe it ought to…
… then we’ll live for Him
But if not… (pause)
Here in Philippians, Paul’s giving us a different look at Christianity.
The chapter we’re reading today comes from one of the “Prison Epistles”. They were letters Paul wrote while he was under house arrest in Rome. He was in chains because of his faith in Christ
Not only is Paul under arrest, there’s a good possibility he might soon die.
In Philippians 1:20 Paul tells his friends in Philippi: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Picture this if you will… Paul has been a faithful servant of God’s for years
· He’s planted several churches
· Won countless people to Christ
· Written so many letters to the churches that they now make up ½ of our New Testament
· Now he’s in chains and potentially facing execution by beheading.
You’d think that he’d be depressed and angry … But he’s not
If anything he sounds excited. He sounds as if he’s faced with two life enhancing possibilities and he’s not sure which one to choose.
He writes: “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” Philippians 1:22-24
Essentially, he’s saying… “I can’t lose!”
If he dies, he goes to heaven & gets to be with Christ.
But if he lives he gets to stay here and gets to accomplish that much more for Jesus.
How could Paul possibly look at his options with such anticipation?
ILLUS: There’s a legend about a wealthy merchant who traveled thru-out the Mediterranean world looking for an opportunity to meet the Apostle Paul. After a time, he encountered a disciple of Paul’s named Timothy, and Timothy arranged a visit. But at the time (according to the legend) Paul was a prisoner in Rome, living in a jail cell.
Stepping inside the cell, the merchant was surprised to find a frail old man. But as he talked with him (and they talked for hours) he found Paul to be a man of deep peace and power.
Finally the merchant left Paul… and outside the prison, he asked Timothy "What is the secret of this man’s power? I have never seen anything like it before."
“Oh, didn’t you know?" replied Timothy. "PAUL is in love."
The merchant looked bewildered. "In Love?"
"Oh yes," Timothy answered, "Paul is in love with Jesus Christ."
The merchant scoffed. "Is that all?"
Timothy smiled and then replied, "Yes sir. That’s all… but that is everything."
You see, the reason Paul could face imprisonment - and even death - with a calm assurance was because he was in love with Jesus. Nothing else mattered as much to him as living for Christ.
ILLUS: Have you ever seen two young people in love. They live for each other. They’re consumed with each other. They spend every conceivable moment on the telephone or the internet exchanging words of love and affection. Nothing else matters because they are so much in love.