Summary: How to be a high impact Christian in a lost world.
Introduction: Every year at Christmas time one of my favorite movies is shown on TV, "It’s A Wonderful Life", staring Jimmy Stewart. In the movie Jimmy plays a man named George Bailey. George has big dreams of going to college and being a world traveler. Instead, he winds up having to take over his father’s building and loan, which is more like a charity than a business. George becomes so disappointed in what he has become that one day he decides to take his own life. He says, "I wish I’d never been born". At that moment his guardian angel Clarence intervenes and shows him what life would have been like had he never been born. His home town "Bedford Falls" would have become "Pottersville" named after the greedy old banker. His old boss the druggist would have turned into the town drunk because George wouldn’t have been there to stop him from making a fatal error in a prescription. The angel shows him how many lives he touched with his life. All of us want to be like George Baily. We all want to know that our lives have counted, that we have made a difference in the lives of others.
This was what Paul wanted for the Philippian Christians. In our text he says that he wants to "rejoice in the day of Christ that he has not run in vain, neither labored in vain". He wants to know that his efforts on them had not been wasted, that they had become difference makers in this world.
In the first several verses of this chapter Paul focuses on what believers are to be inside of the Body of Christ as they interact with one another. Now Paul begins to talk about what our impact should be on the world.
(READ verses 14-16)
Do you want to be a difference maker? Then consider:
I. THE CONDUCT OF A DIFFERENCE MAKER (14)
Just before our text, in verse 13 Paul says that God works in the believer both to will (that means giving him the desire) and to do His (God’s) good pleasure.
In our text Paul begins by saying "do all things". The Christian life is a life of doing. It’s not a life of sitting but a life of serving. We are to be "doers of the word". Faith that does not result in some kind of service is dead James says. But there is a way that we are to serve God, a manner in which we are to conduct ourselves.
"Without murmurings and disputings." The word "murmuring" means whispering, or muttering, it speaks of private complaining, grumbling. One of the most unbecoming things a Christian can be is a chronic complainer, always finding fault, never contented, never happy.
A monk entered a monastery in which he agreed to take a vow of silence. He could only speak two words every ten years. After the first ten years he was brought before the leader. He said, "bed hard". Ten years later he was brought before the leader again. He said, "food bad". Ten years later he was brought before the leader again. He said, "I quit". The leader said, "Well it doesn’t surprise me. You haven’t done anything but complain for the last 30 years."
There are some Christians who never seem to speak unless it is a word of complaint, either about their condition or about someone else, or the church. All of us have our complaints from time to time but some are constant complainers. Complainers are seldom difference makers, usually they are on the sidelines criticizing those who are making a difference.
Baily Smith, an evangelist said he had a man in his church once that never had a positive thing to say. In a business meeting he called on the man as if to pray but this is what he said, "Brother so and so would you please stand and lead us in a word of discouragement at this time." Not only does chronic complaining damage our testimony and discourage others, it is very displeasing to God.
Most scholars agree that Paul is drawing a correlation in these verses between Israel and the Church. Israel was redeemed by God to be a "light unto the nations". The church was redeemed and called to be the "light of the world". Israel’s greatest downfall was that of constant complaining. "We’re tired of manna. We want meat. We’re thirsty. God has brought us out here to die." Finally one day God sent fire from heaven to consume the complainers.
When we constantly complain, we are saying, "God your provision is not good enough. Your intentions are unjust. Your grace is not sufficient.
To overcome complaining we must begin to trust God. God who’s intentions are always good, who’s grace is always sufficient for every circumstance, who’s person is always available. I like the little serenity prayer because I think it applies here. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference."