Text: Phil. 4:4-9
1. Illustration: The story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, "This is good!" One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, "This is good!" To which the king replied, "No, this is not good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail. About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way. As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. "You were right," he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off." And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this." "No," his friend replied, "This is good!" "What do you mean, ’This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?" "If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you."
2. Proposition: Living the Christian life is all about attitude.
3. Two of the basic attitudes of the Christian life are...
a. Joyful Attitude
b. Positive Attitude
4. Let's stand together as we read Phil. 4:4-9.
Transition: One of the hallmarks of Christian's is a...
I. Joyful Attitude (4-7).
A. Full Of Joy
1. As Paul concludes his letter to his dear friends he wants to leave them with something to live by; think of this as Paul's Christian Manifesto.
2. He begins with, "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!"
a. The two adverbs always and again tell us much, especially that this is not just "typical" and therefore to be passed over as a nice Christian cliché, but crucial to the whole of this letter.
b. To be glad; to rejoice; to celebrate; to be merry. It means to be joyful and full of euphoria, full of God's presence and glory (Practical Word Studies in The New Testament, 1711).
c. Joy, total, unrestrained joy, is ”or at least should be” the distinctive mark of the believer in Christ Jesus.
d. The wearing of black and the long face, which so often came to typify some later expressions of Christian holiness, are totally foreign to Paul's version; Paul the theologian of grace is equally the theologian of joy.
e. Christian joy does not come and go with one's circumstances; rather it is predicated altogether on one's relationship with the Lord and is thus an abiding, deeply spiritual quality of life.
f. It finds expression in "rejoicing," which is an imperative, not an option.
g. With its concentration in the Lord, rejoicing is always to mark individual and corporate life in Philippi.
h. They who "serve by the Spirit of God" (3:3) do so in part by rejoicing in the Lord, whatever else may be their lot (Fee).
3. Then Paul says, "Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon."
a. The second imperative, "let everyone see that you are considerate," follows from the first.
b. Considerate: Gentle toleration for others, in spite of having justification for intolerance,” (The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Delta-Epsilon, 1918).
c. The Lord to whom they belong has graciously set them free for joy always.
d. At the same time others should know them for their "gentleness" toward one another and toward all, including those who are currently making life miserable for them.
e. This is the Pauline version of 1 Peter 2:23, spoken of Christ but urged on Christian slaves: "when they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly."
f. They should have a spirit that is reasonable, fair-minded, and charitable.
g. Believers are motivated to joy and consideration of others by remembering that their Lord is coming soon.
h. The promise of the Lord’s second coming encourages careful conduct by his followers (Barton, 860).
4. There are certain things in life that threaten to rob our joy from us, and the chief of which is worry. Therefore, Paul says, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done."
a. Borrowing from the Jesus tradition, that the children of the kingdom are to live without care but not "uncaring" or "careless," Paul turns to one consequence of the Lord's being near.
b. They are to live without worry, instead entrusting their lives to God with prayer and thanksgiving.
c. Apprehension and fear mark the life of the unbelieving, the untrusting, for whom the present is all there is, and for whom the present is so uncertain or for many filled with distress and suffering, like the Philippians.
d. On the contrary, Paul urges, "instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done."
e. Everything stands in contrast to "don't worry about anything" and means "in all the details and circumstances of life."
f. In so doing one acknowledges utter dependence on God while at the same time expressing complete trust in him.
g. Tell God what you need accompanied by thank him for everything puts both prayer and our lives into proper theological perspective.
h. Thanksgiving is a recognition that everything comes as gift, the verbalization before God of his goodness and generosity.
i. Gratitude thus acknowledged breeds generosity. Indeed, lack of gratitude is the first step to idolatry.
j. Paul's own life was accentuated by thanksgiving; and he could not imagine Christian life that was not a constant outpouring of gratitude to God (Fee).
5. Then Paul shows the result of this kind of attitude when he says, "Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
a. Paul deliberately combines the peace of God with the exhortation to pray in trusting submission with thanksgiving.
b. This is God's alternative to anxiety, in the form of affirmation and promise.
c. As we submit our situation to God in prayer, with thanksgiving, . . . the peace of God in turn will guard our hearts and minds ”because we are in Christ Jesus.
d. He is indeed concerned that all of them "have the same mindset" as they "do" the gospel in Philippi; but in contrast to other letters, he does not express peace as an imperative but as an suggestion, closely related to their trusting God in prayer (Fee)
e. God’s peace is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.
f. Such peace cannot be self-generated; it comes from God alone; it is his gift to us in a difficult world.
g. As with so much of God’s dealings with humanity, we cannot understand it, but we can accept and experience God’s peace because of his great love for us.
h. Why does God give his people peace? Because it will guard their hearts and minds.
i. The Greek word for “guard” is a military term that means to surround and protect a garrison or city.
j. The Philippians, living in a garrison town, were familiar with the Roman guards who maintained watch, guarding the city from any outside attack.
k. God’s peace is like soldiers surrounding believers’ hearts and minds (that is, emotions and thoughts), securing them against threatening and harmful outside forces (Barton, 861).
B. Joy Unspeakable
1. Illustration: "Joy is like the hidden note in the glass. Joy is tuning in to what God is doing around you, seeing the world through his eyes, picking up on his delight in us as his children. Anyone can find happiness for a while… Happiness depends on what is happening to you. Joy is different; joy goes deeper. Joy is when your whole being sings because you have caught a glimpse of God at work. Joy can creep up on you and surprise you in unexpected places."
2. We can be joyful because Jesus never changes.
a. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
b. We can't always be happy, but we can always be joyful.
c. We can't control every situation in our lives, but we know the one who controls every situation.
d. Joy is not dependent upon circumstances; it is dependent upon the Lord.
e. And we know that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
f. So be joyful because the source of our joy, Jesus, is constant and unchanging!
Transition: As a result of our joyful attitude we can also have a...
II. Positive Attitude (8-9).
A. Fix Your Thoughts
1. We can be joyful in all circumstances, and we can also maintain a positive attitude in the midst of bad surroundings because we are in Christ.
2. That's what Paul is getting at when he says, "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
a. Fix your thoughts: to think about something in a detailed and logical manner (Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Symantic Domains).
b. Paul intends them to select out what is morally excellent and praiseworthy from whatever belongs to the world around them, and to do so on the basis of Christ.
c. They should thus give consideration first to whatever is true, a word that is narrowly confined in Paul's letters, finding its measure in God and the gospel.
d. Noble is a word that most often has a "sacred" sense ("revered" or "majestic") but here probably denotes "honorable," "noble" or "worthy of respect."
e. Like truth, right for Paul is always defined by God and his character. Thus even though this is one of the cardinal virtues of Greek antiquity, in Paul it carries the further sense of "righteousness," so that it is not defined by merely human understanding of what is "right" or "just" but by God and his relationship with his people.
f. Pure is a word that originated in the religious cultus, where what had been sanctified for the temple could not have blemishes. Here it has to do with whatever is not soiled or tainted in some way by evil. Like truth, it occurs earlier in this letter, referring to the "impure" motives of those wishing to afflict Paul.
g. Lovely refers to what people consider "lovable" in the sense of having a friendly disposition toward. Here is the word that throws the net broadly, so as to include conduct that has little to do with morality in itself but is recognized as admirable by the world at large. It could refer to a Beethoven symphony as well as to the work of Mother Teresa among the poor of Calcutta; the former is lovely and enjoyable, the latter admirable as well as moral.
h. Admirable, although not quite a synonym of lovely, belongs to the same general category of "virtues." Rather than referring to a virtue in the moral sense, it represents the kind of conduct that is worth considering because it is well spoken of by people in general.
i. Worthy of Praise. Although this word probably refers to the approval of others, the basis has been changed from general ethical judgment to conduct that is in keeping with God's own righteousness.
j. While not inherent in verse 8 itself, such an understanding of these words comes from the immediately following exhortation to imitate Paul, which in turn must be understood in light of what has been said to this point (Fee).
3. Then Paul ties this all together by saying, "
Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you."
a. It is not surprising that the concluding exhortations in this letter should end on the note of imitation.
b. In effect verse 9 summarizes, as well as concludes, the letter.
c. Paul's concern throughout has been the gospel, especially its lived-out expression in the world.
d. Now he puts it to them plainly, as the final proviso to the preceding list of virtues that they should take into account.
e. Read that list, he now tells them, in light of what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and above all else put these things into practice.
f. Given the overall context of this letter, one may rightly assume that Paul is once again calling the Philippians to the kind of cross-centric existence he has been commending and urging throughout.
g. Only as they are "conformed to Christ's death" as Paul himself seeks continually to be, even as they eagerly await the final conclusion at Christ's coming, will they truly live what is excellent and worthy of praise from Paul's distinctively "in Christ" perspective (Fee).
1. Illustration: You often hear, "There are 2 kinds of people in the world. Those who see the glass ½ full and those who see the glass ½ empty." I believe there is another. The discourager who complains that it isn’t bottled water. You know the ones. The people who have who have rejected joy and have decided to be victims.
2. Often times our attitude results from our focus.
a. Hebrews 12:2 (NLT)
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
b. When we focus on negative things we are going to have a negative attitude.
c. When we focus on things that are bad we are going to have a bad attitude.
d. When we focus on everything wrong in our lives we are going to have a wrong attitude.
e. However, if we focus on positive things we will have a positive attitude.
f. If we focus on things that are good we will have a good attitude.
g. If we focus on things that are right we will have a right attitude.
h. If we focus on Jesus we will have an attitude of gratitude!
1. Living the Christian life is all about attitude.
2. Two of the basic attitudes of the Christian life are...
a. Joyful Attitude
b. Positive Attitude
3. How's your attitude this