Summary: Philippians 2 shares with us the challenge that “IF” we are believers in Jesus Christ, “THEN” we will reflect certain characteristics of Jesus Christ in our lives: Humbeness and Serving Others
This morning we will focus on two words in our passage that seem like insignificant words, but when you put them together make a very powerful statement and will make us think. The statement is a powerful statement because of the conditional nature of it. The two small words are “IF” and “THEN.”
THE BIG FAT “IF”
The passage that we are going to look at today starts off with a word that is very small, just two letters, but it seems to be quite a large word in the passage as it begins. In fact, the word is repeated four times. The reason this word is so huge even though it has only two letters is because of the conditional nature of its meaning.
“IF” is a conditional word that leaves room for doubt.
“IF” is a conditional word that gives choice.
ILLUSTRATION… “If Statements” (p)
The word “IF” is also at the beginning and middle of a whole bunch of statements that you and I know by heart. Let’s see if you know the ends of these statements… call them out if you know them…
If it ain’t broke… don’t fix it.
If at first you don’t succeed… try try again.
If it doesn’t fit… you must acquit.
Walt Disney said, If you can dream it… you can do it.
If the shoe fits… wear it.
If you are happy and you know it… clap your hands
Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz said, With the thoughts you'd be thinkin' You could be another Lincoln… If you only had a brain
You see the word “IF” is a small word, but can carry with it a pretty hefty meaning in whatever statement we find it. It is a conditional word. It is a word that calls into question everything that comes after the little word or what is before it. Our passage today in Philippians 2 starts with four “IF” statements which get our attention right away.
READ Philippians 2:1
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion…”
THE FOUR “IF” STATEMENTS (verse 1)
I have got to tell you, these four “IF” statements in verse one seem very significant to me. The fact that the Apostle Paul repeats “IF” four times tells me that the conditional nature of what we are about to talk about is pretty high.
First, he brings to our mind the encouragement that we should have by being united with Christ. For those who are believers in Jesus Christ, we are encouraged through this life by the presence of Jesus in our lives and by the living out of His commands. When life is horrible, terrible, and just no good, we who are believers have hope and strength to drive through it all to the other side. Jesus brings us hope. Jesus brings us strength.
In Romans 15:4-5, the Apostle Paul tells us, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.”
In 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, the Apostle Paul tells us, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
Second, he brings to our mind the comfort we have in our lives because of the ever present unconditional love of Christ. For those of us who are believers in Christ, the cornerstone of our faith is that Jesus Christ loves us. One of the qualities that define our intimate relationship with God is His love for us. Jesus loved us. Jesus, as we will see in a minute in this passage, emptied Himself in Heaven and came to us in a supreme act of love. He lived perfectly for us because He loved us. He died for us because He loved us. All of that was an expression of love that is meant to bring us comfort that we are always perfectly loved by God.
In Ephesians 5:1-2, the Apostle Paul says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
In 1 John 4:10 and 4:19, the Apostle John says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” And “We love because he first loved us.”