Summary: A message about putting aside our own agendas for the sake of others and the kingdom.
Putting Others First
August 13, 2006
We live in a very “me-centered” culture, don’t we?
I think most cultures are me-centered to an extent, even those where respect for others is much higher than it is here in the United States.
There’s a word for being “me-centered,” and that word is “selfish.”
Selfishness is abundant in our country, and sadly, it’s abundant in the Body of Christ as well.
And it’s not a new problem. The Apostle Paul came across this problem in his dealings with the various churches he had planted.
The issue is that when we’re “me-centered,” then others can be ignored, or we become so focused on having our own needs met, we don’t think of the needs of others. And we certainly don’t have room for Christ.
And no one is immune to this.
In our passage today, we find what he has to say about this problem.
And we find that Paul doesn’t just give us some words of wisdom to live by, he does something that he does constantly throughout his letters: he points to Christ.
And my hope for us today is that as we look at these words of Scripture and see the example of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will work in all of us to be people of humility, who consider the needs of other people.
Our passage for today is found in Philippians 2:1-11. If you’re using the Bibles in the seats, this is on Page 831 –
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:
6 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.
Lord Jesus, fill us with your attitude as we go through this wonderful passage of Scripture!
Well, let’s see what can we learn from these words of Paul, shall we, as we look at five instructions for putting others first.
Five instructions for putting others first.
You’ve probably noticed that while it says that there are five instructions, there are only four numbers with stuff beside them.
Don’t worry – the fifth is in the conclusion!
1. Use the tools of Jesus.
Now most of you know that I’m not the most useful person with tools. I can probably give you the tool you ask for, if you call it by a name I’ll recognize or you describe it well enough for me to figure it out.
“Yeah – it’s that thing that looks like you can hit things with it – you know, like nails or something. No – that’s crescent wrench. That other thing. Never mind, I’ll get it myself.”
Okay, so I’m not really that bad, but I do know this – that the right tools can make the job a whole lot easier.
Jesus has given us some tools to make putting others first a bit easier.
He’s given us everything we need, as we can see in verse 1 –
> Encouragement from being united in Him.
In other words, because we are bonded together by Christ, we can find encouragement for ourselves and to give to others.
> Comfort from His love.
Where do we run to find comfort when we’re hurting? Those we love and who we know love us. Christ loves us so we can find comfort in Him as well as extend that comfort to others.
> Fellowship with His Spirit.
Again, because of our common faith in Christ, we can grow in our relationships with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
This lends itself quite nicely to putting others before ourselves.
Folks, with this kind of tool chest at our disposal, how can we lose?
But the question is this: just what are we to use the tools for? Well, that’s what I want us to look at in the second way we can go about putting others first, and that is to…