The Olympic contestants line up in the starting blocks for the hundred-meter dash. Anticipation has the crowd suspended on the edge of their seats. The starter raises his gun and fires. The athletes spring out of the starting blocks. As they do, it becomes obvious this is no ordinary race. You see, this is the Special Olympics – Special because the contestants are all developmentally and physically disabled.

The runners move down the track shoulder-to-shoulder, one young woman stumbles and falls headfirst on the track, crying from pain and embarrassment.

The rest of the contestants move on for ten or fifteen yards. Then, without a word spoken between them, they all stop, turnaround, and jog back to their fallen friend. They pick her up off the track, comfort her, and then arm in arm they run together to the finish line.

Now here’s the question I have for you: Who won? Maybe you’d say, “Everybody did!”

But from a competitive standpoint, nobody did. No individual demonstrated his or her superiority by crossing that finish line first. Which is what it means to win, right??

Did everybody win, or did nobody win? The answer depends on what your goal is.

To be the best and gain the glory, or to finish the race, together

(In this morning’s passage, Paul lays before the Philippians what is to be their ultimate goal and how they are to achieve it.

This is our third week in Philippians, and I’d like to… )


Week 1: Guaranteed Goal

We started by looking upward – seeing that

God has a purpose for his people;

God has a purpose for his church –

and nothing is going to stand in the way of His fulfillment of His purposes.

Week 2: Win-Win Situation

We looked back and saw Paul’s perspective on his difficult circumstances. Although he’s

Under “house arrest,” chained to a Roman soldier 24 hours a day

Awaiting a trial that could put him to death

He is rejoicing because he can see that God is using his circumstances for the progress of the gospel.

Now we’re in Week 3:

We turn from Paul’s circumstances in Rome to the Philippians’ circumstances.

We listen to Paul counsel the Philippians about how their ultimate goal in life should shape the way they live,

and try to learn how our ultimate goal in life should shape the way we live.

Maybe you’ve never thought about what you’re ultimate goal in life is.

But Paul lays out what it should be for every follower of Jesus Christ.

(Our translation says “your way of life should be as the gospel of Christ requires,” but I think some of the other translations capture it better by saying that our ultimate goal is to…)


This is not a statement about rules & regulations, but about living a life suitable for a son or a daughter of the Creator and Ruler of the Universe, about living up to our high calling in Christ.

Paul tells them to live that way whether he comes back or not.

As we heard last week, he thinks he’ll get out of Rome alive, but he may not.

Maybe he’ll get to see them again and maybe he won’t

But that shouldn’t affect their manner of life.

He doesn’t want them to, “live a life worthy of the Apostle Paul, so when he comes he can be proud of you.”

What is most important is to “live a life worthy of the high and noble relationship into which you have been called by God.”

“Be the people God called you to be, not for Paul’s sake, but for the sake of the one who has called you.”

I am often hesitant to tell people I am a pastor. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it, but people sometimes act strangely when they realize they’re talking to a pastor.

They apologize and get all embarrassed if they had used a bad word or made an off-color remark – or if they had done anything else in my presence they thought might offend me.

It wasn’t that they were really so concerned about their behavior; they were just self-conscious that a “religious person” now knew about it.

I’d think “You don’t need to worry about me.

If you’re doing things you shouldn’t do, God’s the one to worry about – and He knows what you’re doing whether anybody else is watching or not.”

Who are you living your life to impress?

Does your behavior change depending on who’s watching?

Do you have a “church” personality and a “work” personality or a “home” personality?

And while this can be a problem for many of us as adults, it can be an even more difficult struggle for our young folks. Are you the same person in school as you are at home or in church? Do you change your values to fit the situation, or to fit in with those you’re with?

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