Summary: We live in a very "me-centered" society. Me-centered simply means selfish. This spirit of selfishness is plaguing our nation....
Hand Over Your Sword
Text: Philippians 2:1-11
Introduction: We live in a very “me-centered” society. “Me-centered” simply means “selfish.” This spirit of selfishness is plaguing our nation, but even sadder is the fact that it is plaguing the Body of Christ as well.
We consider this a fairly new problem, but history reveals selfishness has ruled the hearts of mankind since the very beginning. It was selfishness that caused Eve to act in disobedience unto God in the garden. It was selfishness that caused Cain to kill Abel. Selfishness destroyed King Saul and the list goes on and on and on. As a church planter, Paul encountered this problem often. Too many people think they have a better way of doing of things. These type of people are always eager to jump up and voice their opinion of how things could be alot better. Here in this work, we are often bombarded by people who think they have the solution to all the problems we encounter here. Opinions and suggestions are not bad, in fact they can be be very helpful. It’s the attitude in which they are put forth that makes them bad. It’s that selfish attitude that is always looking at the "me."- how we could better accomodate the individual to suit they’re particular fancy for the moment. The concern of these kind of people is not focused on others, it’s focused on "me."
A major problem arises when we become "me-centered" - others are often ignored, or we become so focused on having our own needs met, we don’t even think of the needs of others. Worse yet, we come to the place where we don’t even have room for Christ anymore. Let me clarify something here: no one is immune to this.
In our passage today, we find Paul discussing this particular problem that had arisen in his church plant at Philippi. Paul’s words to this church, as well as ours, are not only words of wisdom to live by but they are pointers to the true reason for our even being here - Jesus Christ.
As we consider these words and see the example of Jesus Christ, may the Holy Spirit be free to work in all of us to be people of humility, people who are always considerate of the needs of other people. What it comes down to is that word used in verse 5: "attitude." Some of us here may need to consider an attitude adjustment before we leave here.
Let’s get into the word here and see what we can learn from Paul about this whole issue of "me-centeredness." Paul offers five instructions to for putting others first.
To put others first, we must learn to:
1. Use the Tools of Jesus
- v. 1 - "If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy"
A. Jesus has given us some tools to use to make "putting others first" a little bit easier.
B. These tools include: encouragement, consolation, fellowship, affection and mercy.
1. Encouragement in Christ - our bond with Christ brings personal encouragement to us and through it we learn to encourage others in that same bond.
2. Consolation of Love - Or comfort from His love; it is in discovering His love that we find all comfort for ourselves as well as others.
3. Fellowship with the Spirit - As we learn to grow in our fellowship and relationship with God’s Spirit, we learn to grow in our fellowship and relationships with others.
4. Affection - This is a permanent bent of the mind toward another, a passion. When we develop a passion or affection for others, we become permanently bent toward helping them with their needs.
5. Mercy - Mercy is tenderness of the heart which overlooks injuries and trepasses, overlooks the offender and the need for justice, and simply forgives just as God has forgiven us.
Application: If we will set our hearts and minds upon these tools of the Lord Jesus, we will find it is very easy to put others first.
But a question arises at this point: Just what are we to use these tools for? Paul answers that question here in this second point of putting others first:
2. Work for Unity in Christ
- v. 2 - "fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal."
A. It is important that we see that this unity is not based on our magnetic personalities, on our similar tastes in food, or on our mutual hobbies.
B. This unity Paul is talking about is based on our love and service to Christ.
C. Four things Paul encourages us to do to develop that bond of unity: