Summary: You are to have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, namely, humility.

First Presbyterian Church

Wichita Falls, Texas

March 13, 2011



The ABCs of Spring Cleaning -- Part 1

Isaac Butterworth

Philippians 2:1-11 (NIV)

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, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7 but made himself nothing,

taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

When I was in college, I worked as a youth director at a little church out in the country about an hour’s drive away. There were two families in that congregation that didn’t get along. When they came to worship, they would take up their positions on opposite sides of the room and glare at each other with contempt. When it was time to leave, they would do everything in their power to avoid contact with one another. They had long since given up speaking to each other.

Once, I asked the pastor about it, and he said he had looked into it. But everybody he asked told him the same thing. They didn’t know why these two families didn’t get along. When he asked what started the whole thing, nobody could recall. So, he went to the heads of the two families and asked: ‘What happened to create such division between you?’ Guess what? They couldn’t remember either! Supposedly, their mutual resentment had once served them well, but now they were serving it: feeding a debilitating enmity toward one another even though no one could give a single good reason for doing so! I thought to myself: ‘Here are people who make it a point to go to church every Sunday. They form their lips around words of praise, they submit their ears to hearing the gospel of reconciliation, and presumably they offer their prayers to the One who is called the Prince of Peace. Yet none of it makes any difference. They’re the same people when they leave as they were before they came.’ I was astounded.

Then, I began to look into my own heart. And I had to admit that I, too, was resistant to the change that Christ seeks to work within me. Like anyone else, I can exempt myself from the claim of the Spirit on my life. Like anyone else, I can excuse myself from submitting to the transformation offered in the gospel. Like anyone else, I can rationalize away the the truth to which I am called not only to assent but to embody as well.

No show of hands, of course, but do you find that to be true of yourself? Our beloved Savior has claimed you and freed you from sin’s grip on your life, and you have turned to him and fallen into his embrace. Nevertheless, you find yourself still plagued by sin’s power, and not only do you yield to it but you justify doing so!

You and I have been given new life by the grace of Christ; you and I have breathed in the fresh air of the Spirit of Christ. Yet, we still follow the scent of our former ways. We still entangle ourselves in old patterns. We still maintain old attitudes that, if ever they did have a place in our lives, now no longer serve us. They just distract us and defeat us.

Paul talks about this very thing in his letter to the Philippians, in chapter 2, the passage we read just moments ago. Look how Paul begins. He says, ‘If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit’ -- in other words, as Eugene Peterson puts in his paraphrase in The Message, ‘if you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ’ -- ‘then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose’ (vv. 1f.).

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