Summary: There is an "others" centered theme in Philippians that shines brightly in the examples and instructions of chapter 2.
Mrs. Jenny’s 2nd and 3rd grade Wednesday night class has been memorizing Philippians 2:5-11. They have done from verse 5-8 so far and I want to invite them all to come up here and share these verses with all of us. Will all you students please come on up?
This week’s "through the Bible" readings have taken us through Acts 20-28, then the prison epistles: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.
I have selected Philippians 2 for our lesson this morning. This little letter of Philippians is the warmest and most positive of all the New Testament letters. Rejoicing in the Lord, no matter the circumstance, is a central theme. This joy is based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and built by a pursuit of knowing and even experiencing Jesus in all of life’s ups and downs. An underlying theme is fellowship in Christ when relationships with one another don’t go so smoothly.
This is hinted at in the first chapter when Paul says that there are some who preach Christ out of envy trying to bring him distress. But Paul says, “I just rejoice that Christ is preached!” You’ve got to love his attitude. Here he is, sitting in prison, and writing to a church to cheer them up! Paul looks for God’s hand of blessing even in his hardship. In chapter 1:29 he tells them that it has been granted for Christ’s sake that they not only believe in Him but also suffer for his sake! This is said as if it is a blessing for them! Now that’s a different sort of view than most of us are used to.
Chapter two is woven together with instructions and examples. Three main characters are presented as examples to help us understand and accept the instruction: Jesus Christ, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. But before we look at the examples, let me just read the instruction part first:
Follow with me: verses 1-4, & 12-18.
2:1 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,
2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;
4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;
15 that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,
16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.
18 And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.
Lord, help me to live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others.
Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true
And know that all I’d do for you
Must needs be done for others.
Let "self" be crucified and slain
And buried deep, and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again
Unless to live for others.
Others, Lord, yes, others
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others
That I may live like Thee.
When I was a teenager someone made popular the statement that Joy means Jesus first, others second and yourself last. It’s true that self centeredness is the most miserable and ugly attitude of the heart. True joy is finding Jesus by serving others in his name.
I sought my God, my God I could not see.
I sought myself, but self eluded me.
I sought my brother and found all three.
To help us understand the instructions of chapter 2 Paul gives us these three examples: Jesus Christ, Timothy, and Epaphroditus.
Let’s start with the most unfamiliar one and work our way to the most familiar. Epaphroditus… Look with me at verses 25-30.