Summary: Paul’s call to the church to put aside petty differences and use the gifts God has given to work together so that we "shine like stars in the universe".
Philippians 2: 12-18 – “Letting our Stars shine”
By James Galbraith
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni
October 15, 2006
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
An man goes to a diner every day for lunch. He always orders the soup du jour. One day the manager asks him how he liked his meal.
The man replies, “It was good, but you could give a little more bread.”
So the next day the manager tells the waitress to give him four slices of bread. “How was your meal, sir?” the manager asks.
“It was good, but you could give a little more bread,” comes the reply.
So the next day the manager tells the waitress to give him eight slices of bread. “How was your meal today, sir?” the manager asks.
“Good, but you could give a little more bread,” comes the reply.
So ... the next day the manager tells the waitress to give him a whole loaf of bread with his soup. “How was your meal, sir?” the manager asks, when he comes to pay. “It was good, but you could give just a little more bread,” comes the reply once again.
The manager is now obsessed with seeing this customer say that he is satisfied with his meal, so he goes to the bakery, and orders a six-foot-long loaf of bread. When the man comes in as usual the next day, the waitress and the manager cut the loaf in half, butter the entire length of each half, and lay it out along the counter, right next to his bowl of soup.
The man sits down, and devours both his bowl of soup, and both halves of the six-foot-long loaf of bread. The manager now thinks he will get the answer he is looking for, and when the old man comes up to pay for his meal, the manager asks in the usual way: “How was your meal TODAY, sir?” The man replies: “It was good as usual, but I see you are back to giving only two slices of bread!”
This message is about neither soup nor bread, but we will talk about the issue of “complaining and arguing”, and how divisive it can be.
First, let’s see what’s brought Paul to this point in the letter.
This passage is a lot like the end of a sermon.
Paul has spoken at length on the condition of the Philippian church.
He has called them to work together and put behind them petty squabbling that could blow up into full-scale, church wrecking dissent.
He has reminded them that suffering and trials are part and parcel of the faith - as Christ suffered to bring us salvation so we too will undergo hardship related to our faith.
He has encouraged them to act in humility to bring themselves closer together, and pointed to the greatest act of humility in history:
the birth, life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as an example.
He is about to return to discussing his own current situation,
but not before wrapping up his train of thought concerning
facing hardship together, working together and putting each other first.
READ VERSES 12-13 - Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
He starts off with very kind words, to demonstrate his affection for these people and his good intentions in what he is about to tell them.
He is not the arrogant master bossing his servants around, he is the loving teacher sharing essential truths with a class that he dearly loves.
"as you have always obeyed" is a reference to their demonstrated desire to follow God. It is an acknowledgement that they as a church have always tried to do what they knew God wants of them.