Summary: A sermon on the importance of living together in Christian community
“Learning How To Live a Life of Generous Friendship”
May 26th, 2019
Key Scripture: Philippians, Chapter Four
Learning How To Live a Life of Generous Friendship
Today, we finish our series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Over the last few weeks, we have been exploring the connection between Christian joy and suffering. Paul’s letter to the young church in Philippi is inspired teaching for us about how to go through tough times.
I’m going to start with a question this morning-
Do we have a theology (Explain) for suffering? (what is your view of God when things aren’t right)
I’m not asking whether we can explain suffering philosophically.
In fact, philosophy rarely helps people who are facing trials and tribulations. Instead, I am asking whether we, as followers of Jesus, can go through hard times and still show Jesus to the world.
This is the subject of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It is the Holy Spirit speaking to us about finding joy in Jesus through good times or bad.
Today we will look at the fourth and final chapter of this great letter. Our topic is: learning how to deal with tough times by living a life of generous friendship.
As we look at this fourth chapter, I think we can discover four points on the benefits of living in generous relationship with one another, followed by three additional points about how to take action.
We can discover the beauty of a life of generous friendship.
Let’s take a big chunk of this chapter and then break it down:
Phil 4:1 “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia (Yo-dia) and I plead with Syntyche (Sin-tic-ee) to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:1-9)
Four points I want to tackle this morning, followed by 3 applications at the end of the message, so let’s get into the first point-
#1 – Agree with each other.
Paul takes time in this teaching letter to urge two women in the church at Philippi to “be of the same mind.” It’s important that we agree with each other. Of anyone in this world, God’s people should learn how to get along with one another!
Now, this is not a call to be tolerant of bad doctrine. If someone were to come into our church and say that they really don’t believe that Jesus was God, and we should stop preaching that, we need to stand firm on the truth of the deity of Jesus. Amen?
Paul has already cautioned us to beware of bad theology. There is a tendency among us who value truth to use it like a hammer, and that’s not the intention of seeking truth.
Seeking truth must start and end with wanting the glory of God above all, not for us to want to win an argument.
With this in mind, I use the quote attributed to St. Augestine:
In necessary things Fidelity.
In doubtful things, unity.
In all things, love.
Agape love is tolerant of diverse opinion.
For example- we tolerate those here who might be Vikings fans. We pray for them that they might come into the light of truth and become Packer Backers and Cheeseheads, and we will not throw them out of the church over a football team allegiance.
So when there is a conflict over doubtful things (things that are not clearly spelled out in scripture as absolute truth, we have scripture to guide us in this situations-
Rom 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Paul is talking about Christian harmony. “Harmony” is a musical term; while doctrine is critically important, it’s possible to get the words right but to get the music wrong in our relationships one with another.