Summary: There is a danger that, many Christians, and the Church faces. Forgetting our identity, and ministry.
Me, Myself, and I
There are many great truths that Jesus taught, that are easily understood and are enjoyable to follow.
However there are several of Jesus teachings that need spiritual maturity to understand and practice.. Such as;
"The first will be last, and the last will be first."
"If you save your life you will loose it, but if you loose your life you will save it."
Or by giving your riches away, you will have wealth.
Jesus teachings were built upon spiritual implications, for mature believers to live by, practice, and follow.
Our identity as a child of God is more important than our own individual identity.
A. Paul with foresight, and discernment was stressing these same important priorities. He was reminding the Philippians of the importance, and necessity of continuing their faithful ministry of service.
Phil 2:3-4 NIV
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Phil 2:21 NIV
21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
B. There is a danger that, many Christians, and the Church faces. Forgetting our identity, and ministry.
1. Many have the form of Godliness but deny the power
Ministry is motivated by calculation for personal benefit.
The question has changed from: What can I do for God.
To: What will you do for me, God?
2. Feeling better has become more important to than serving God, and being God like.
God is pictured as the dispenser (and withholder) of life’s prizes, television game-show host.
What behind door #1,2,3 Will it be good health, fortune, and success.
3. Nations, Men, and Churches go through some very similar changes. When they lose their identity and purpose.
From bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from great courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to leisure, from leisure to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence to weakness, from weakness back to bondage. (Example of Isreal)
C. There is a danger as Paul Teaches, "The Old Man", the "Natural Man" or our "Carnal nature" tries to resurface.
1. Man tries to be righteous by what he shuns, instead of allowing to impart his Righteousness, or allowing righteousness to lead us in ministry.
2. Self-love fills a selfish man’s heart.
He has no grief at another’s trouble and no pleasure in another’s joy.
3. Preoccupied with self
In the 50s there was a magazine called Life. Then came People magazine. Now we have one called Us. What next? A magazine called Me? And now there actually is a magazine called Self.
How indicative and indicting of a world infatuated and preoccupied with self.
How contrary to the example and life-giving principles of the Christ. He came to bring life.
He revealed and demonstrated the principles of life. He clearly taught that life is not to be found in living for self, but rather in GIVING OF SELF in the service of God and others! He said in Luke 9:23-15:
"If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?"
Happiness is not found in the pursuit of happiness.
Life is not found in the pursuit of life.
Both Happiness and Life, are found in a pursuit of God and His righteousness.
As Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matt. 5:6).
The end of our current emphasis on SELF is not life, but disappointment and ultimately death!
If we would discover TRUE LIFE, then we must pursue the things of God and the spirit!
D. So long as a man thinks only of himself he has not learned what the gospel means.
1. He may be seeking what he calls his spiritual welfare - escape from hell, a happy future, or peace here.
But all this is selfish. Selfishness in every respect must be uprooted in order that the true Christian life may be established.
2. A Change in Thought, Feelings, and Actions.
Love to Christ, not the saving of our own souls, is the great motive that should inspire us.
Love to our fellow-men, not personal comfort, is the spirit that should pervade our lives.
We are only Christian in so far as we follow Christ.
All pretensions of saintly devotion count just for nothing, or for worse than nothing, for hypocrisy, so long as the self sits enthroned in our hearts.