What would most people say if they were asked, "What pops into your mind when you hear the word Christian?" What do you think most people would say? Legalistic? Judgemental? Intolerant?
Iâm convinced that way too few of them would say, "The word that pops into my mind is Îlove.â"
Yet love is precisely what we are to be known for. Even outsiders know the "inside" secret ö that love is to be the primary characteristic of our lives. Our Lord Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples ö if you have love for one another."
We are known for our positions on moral and ethical issues. We are known for being out-of-touch with todayâs world. We are known for being "holier-than-thou." But how many people know us by our love?
You might agree with me that not too many of us have mastered the fine art of loving well. People regularly sit with me in my office and share a parade of relational problems. Divorce statistics are slightly higher for Christians than for non-Christians.
Peggy Rosenthal, in her work Words and Values, says that few words in our vocabulary are used any more than self and its combinations, like self-fulfillment, self-expression, self-actualization. We now have a (womenâs) magazine called Self. We are living in a narcissistic society: a culture in which we are preoccupied with ourselves. And the world has squeezed us into its mold. Itâs time to break out of that mold!
Looking Out for #2 (for others)
Text: Philippians 2:1-4
Series: Joy for Your Journey
Robert J. Ringer wrote a book, Looking Out for Number One. It was the best-selling book in America for 46 weeks. I wonder how well a book called Looking Out for Number Two would do?
If you want better relationships in your home, in your church, in your community, in your school, in your working environment, then this message is for you.
If therefore, there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4 (NASB)
Here at CVCC week after week we open up the Bible and usually go verse-by-verse through a book. Why? We really arenât interested in what some man has to say. We are really interested in what God has to say. We worship Him when we pay close attention to His words. So, as your pastor/teacher, I do my homework week after week ö examining the verses to seek to understand them, applying the truths I learn to my own life, asking God how He wants me to apply these verses to our lives together at CVCC. Then begging Him to do what He does all around the world in churches that take this book seriously ö use a man of God to preach the Word of God to the people of God so that our lives are changed for the glory of God.
Father, use my voice as Your instrument to communicate life-changing truth to Your people. Lord, You have given to me this voice ö not so much to buy stuff, - but to point these people to You, a holy God before whom we will all one day give an account. Let us worship You today as we focus on Your Word. God, I am powerless to make anything happen. But You have chosen to place me here before your people. Now, use me. Make what happens here on Sundays be awesome. Show up, Lord! May this never be a time when a man gives advice to religious inferiors. May this always be a time when we truly hear from You.
Letâs set this passage in its context with the other verses. Last week, as we looked at the closing verses in chapter 1, we learned that we must stand firm in our faith because people will oppose us. Often when opposition comes, unity and love are threatened. Things arenât going well and we look for someone to blame. Has that eve happened in yourfamily or on your team? When troubles come, togetherness goes?
The man who wrote this book of the Bible, Paul, had learned about a possible division within the church in Philippi. In chapter 4, weâll see Paul challenge two people to agree in the Lord. Just like us, these Christians had problems looking out for others. They had relationship troubles.