Summary: Encouragement, Charity, Love, Compassion
Philippians 2:1-4 (p. 819) November 3, 2013
The Apostle Paul is in jail as he writes this letter to the Philippians. In fact he’s told them “Now I want you to know brothers and sisters that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ...and because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” (Phil. 1:12-14)
Paul is experiencing opposition, persecution, even imprisonment, and the Philippians are experiencing that same kind of struggle. In fact the “therefore” in our text refers to this truth: “Since you are going through the same struggle as me...” (Phil. 1:30)
Something happens to us in Christ when we realize we’re not going through struggles by ourselves...That there are others who not only understand, but are being victorious.
I. THE ENCOURAGMENT THAT UNITES US TO CHRIST
In the book some of us are studying on Wednesday nights called “Messy Spirituality” Mike Yaconelli shares this story:
Walking by a pet shop on his way to school, a young boy stopped and stared through the window. Inside were four black puppies playing together. After school he ran home and pleaded with his mother to let him have one of the puppies. “I’ll take care of it, Mom, I will. If you can just give me an advance on my allowance, I’ll have enough money to buy one with my own money. Please, Mom, please.”
The mother, knowing full well the complications having a new puppy would bring to a busy household, could not resist her son. “Okay, you can get the puppy, but I will expect you to take care of it.”
“Yes, Mom, I will.” Filled with excitement, the little boy ran to the pet shop to buy his new puppy.
After determining that the boy had enough money, the pet shop owner brought him to the window to choose his puppy. After a few minutes, the young boy said, “Um...I’ll take the little one in the corner.”
“Oh no,” said the shop owner, “not that one; he’s crippled. Notice how he just sits there; something is wrong with one of his legs, so he can’t run and play like the rest of the puppies. Choose another one.”
Without saying a word, the boy reached down, lifted his pant leg to expose a chrome leg brace to the owner.
“No,” he said firmly, “I think I’ll take the puppy in the corner.”
It turned out that what disqualified the puppy from being chosen by others is what most qualified him to be chosen by the little boy.
You see God doesn’t love us because we’re clean, whole and fixed...He loves us because we’re not...And what disqualifies me...what makes me “crippled” is what most qualifies me to be chosen by Jesus.
It’s forgiveness and grace that unites me and you to Christ...And if that is true Paul says the encouragement you receive from that truth will ooze out of your attitude into the lives of others.
This has nothing to do with your personality. Whether you are loud and crazy or shy and soft spoken...A type A or a Type Q.
You cannot change your personality...That D.N.A. was established in your mother’s womb and impacted by God’s knitting needle. (Ps. 139) BUT you choose your mindset..your attitude...daily...even if you’re in prison or undergoing a terrible struggle.
Paul is not saying be “Fake, be Plastic, Wear a Mask.” What he is saying is instead of looking in a mirror and saying “O, woe is me! How horrible my life has become. Everyone hates me, nobody loves me, think I’ll eat some worms.” Choose in Christ to focus on God’s plan...and others.
Paul uses 4 “If’s” in 1 verse of scripture.
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any kindness and compassion....”
You understand what he’s saying right?!! The Spirit of Christ Jesus cannot live in you and work through you without bearing fruit. In this case the fruit is encouragement, comfort, unity, tenderness and compassion.
Jack Moreland and I were talking about the Holy Spirit the other day and I think I made him chuckle when I said, “Holy isn’t the spirit’s first name...it’s what He does...Holiness is the work He’s involved in...it’s why Jesus left Him here.
When the Holy Spirit convicts a lost person of their sin...it’s unholiness that He’s identifying. It’s the work God’s Spirit does in those outside of the Kingdom. It’s the cutting of the heart referred to in Acts 2, and the identity of our accountability to God’s judgment in John 6, our accountability to God’s judgment in John 16. Jesus says “when the Holy Spirit comes he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin, and righteousness and judgment.” (v8)