Summary: God wants us to be people of love and joy and peace. He wants to breathe into us the qualities of generosity, integrity, humility, and self-discipline. The disciples of Christ are “inspired” people ... Inspired by God's Holy Spirit.
Let’s go back to the beginning of this chapter … back to verse 1 (Philippians 2:1-5):
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ … any consolation from love … any sharing in the Spirit … any compassion and sympathy … make my joy complete … be of the same mind … having the same love … being in full accord … and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interest of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus."
These words should sound somewhat familiar. For the past few months I’ve been preaching on the character or characteristics of a disciple of Jesus Christ. The characteristics that we’ve been talking about are: self-disciple, humility, integrity, generosity, compassion, endurance, peace, joy, and love. These might sound familiar for another reason. They are also the fruits of the Spirit that the Apostle Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23.
God wants us to be people of love and joy and peace. He wants to build endurance into our lives and instill in us compassion for those who need our help. He wants to breathe into us the qualities of generosity, integrity, humility, and self-discipline. The disciples of Christ are “inspired” people. The word “inspire” literally means to have someone or something breathe into you … breathe hope into you when you have none or very little … breathe creativity into you … breath thoughts and ideas into you. Inspiration, then, if it is breathed into you, must come from something outside of yourself. We don’t breathe into ourselves. We don’t “inspire” ourselves. Inspiration comes from without … it has a source. We receive “inspiration” from other people, from books, from the ideas of others, from nature. A coach can inspire you with the hope that we can still win the game. Sitting on the banks of Lake Okeechobee as the sun sets may inspire you to take a picture or write a poem.
Our ultimate “inspiration” comes from God, who breathed into us the very breath of life itself. "… then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). What God breathed into us was not just air. He didn’t do CPR on a lump of clay and bring it to life. What He breathed into us was the breath of life … the divine spark of life … the indwelling Spirit of God. What He inspired us with … what He breathed into us … was the Holy Spirit itself.
We all breath air. We all need air to survive. But how many of us have the Holy Spirit … the Spirit of Christ … living in us? And those of us who do … how many of you are working out your salvation with fear and trembling? “Salvation" is a very common word in the Bible and one that is used frequently by Christians, but many of us truly don’t understand the nature of Salvation … that it occurs in three stages or phases: Past … present … and future.
The moment we truly receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are instantly and eternally saved from the penalty of sin. It is “past” … it is over, done, complete. During our Christian lifespan on earth, however, we are gradually being save from the power of sin and should grow in godliness. This is done … or is being done … in the present … what we should be working out with fear and trembling. And then one day, in the future, we will live in Heaven where will be saved from the very presence of Sin (capital “S”) and will be wholly glorified. Unfortunately, many people consider salvation to be a one-time, past event. They forget its on-going nature and they never develop into fully mature Christians.
A second reason that people miss out on the abundant life or fail to fully develop as a disciple of Christ is that they misunderstand the Biblical or spiritual concept of “works.” For example, Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, NOT of works, lest anyone should boast” (emphasis mine). That does sound like we should just kick back and let God do all the work, but the very next verse says: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for” what? “good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Ephesians 2:10). We are not saved BY good works but FOR good works. Salvation begins with God’s grace, and it is sustained by His grace as you shape your character by what you do.