Summary: Part 2 of a short series about the need and benefits of Community in the church.

Forsaking Ourselves For The Sake of Others

Philippians 2:1-8

January 15, 2017

I’m not sure how it starts, but I know where it starts - - - we all like to think we know what’s best. We like to think we have most, if not all of the answers. We’re pretty free to give out advice and tell people what’s wrong with them. We like to think we are doing it to help other people better . . . but how dare someone come at us and give us a few pointers about ways we can grow and develop into better people . . . at least in their opinion.

How’s that for starters!? And I’m not in a bad mood! I’m actually feeling pretty good. But . . . isn’t that pretty true? We like to give advice, or what we would like to call “constructive criticism” but don’t like to be on the receiving end of it. And generally speaking we like to mask our opinions and thoughts by the phrase, “we are doing this in Christian love.” Or we say, “God told me to tell you this.”

Last week I started talking about Community. We looked at the early church and how they were formed and the fact that they sought to work together, to be together, to serve together, to have all things in common. Worship together, eat together, pray together. On paper - - it really sounds like a great place to be. It’s hard to imagine there were any problems.

But alas, people were involved and when people are involved, problems arise. It doesn’t happen intentionally. Generally, it never does, because we don’t recognize it and for the most part, we seek to do good and not harm others. But can we learn from the early church and can we learn from the current church from what God wants us to learn about church and community?

You know the answer to that one!?!?! Of course . . .

I believe we are to have the mindset and heart of Jesus. Now, that’s a pretty difficult task! Jesus was and is God . . . we are not. So, we start out at a disadvantage . . . or do we?

I believe one of the hardest-to-get, most-difficult-to-live-into, toughest-to-hold- onto ideas is this ~ A Christian lives for the sake of others. We don’t always want to hear that, but I did not make this up. This is central to a biblical understanding of what it means to really be a Christian — which literally means "a little Christ."

Listen to the emphasis the Apostle Paul puts on this idea, when he wrote to the Christians at Philippi. And remember, Paul is in prison as he wrote these words. I’m going to read 8 verses, then break it down a little ~

1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,

2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

6 who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

7 but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

8 And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. – Philiippians 2:1-8

These are such powerful words from Paul about how we are to live our lives. Paul starts out in verse 1 saying ~

1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,

The NIV Says if you are united in Christ. What Paul is getting at is this ~ If you’ve been encouraged because of your relationship with Jesus, if you have comfort because of the love of Christ, if you have experienced the fellowship and community of the Holy Spirit, if you’ve experienced the deep compassion, mercy and grace of God through the Spirit of God - - - - then I want you to do something.

How’s that for what 1 verse means? This is what Paul is now asking the believers to do. If Jesus has made any real dent on you … if being His follower has had any real effect on you … if the Spirit of God has impacted your life, then I need you to do this - - -

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