Summary: Are we more impacted by our earthly citizenship or our heavenly citizenship? God wants us to be dwellers on earth but controlled by heaven.
A. I read the story of a senior citizen who was driving down the highway when his cellphone rang through his Bluetooth car audio system.
1. He pushed the button and answered the phone, it was his wife.
2. The elderly man’s wife urgently warned him, saying, “I just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on Highway 401. I know you are on that road on your way home, please be careful!”
3. The elderly man replied to his wife, “Honey, you won’t believe it. It’s not just one car going the wrong way on the highway, it’s hundreds of them!”
B. Brothers and sisters, the reality in life is there are only two kinds of people in this world: those who are going with the flow of traffic and those who are driving against the flow.
1. Now obviously, when we are talking about actual driving on real highways, we must obey the law and follow the proper driving direction.
2. But if we use driving and the flow of traffic as a metaphor, then we realize that Christians have a challenging calling.
3. We are called to live and walk in God’s ways, and to move with God’s flow, but that puts us against the prevailing worldly flow of traffic.
4. We find ourselves in the same predicament that the senior citizen found himself in – driving against the flow of traffic.
C. In our text today from Philippians, Paul points out to us that there are only two kinds of people:
1. There are those who have their eyes on this world and its pleasures and are living accordingly.
2. And in contrast to them, are those whose eyes are on heaven and it’s ways and they are living accordingly.
3. As we will see, Paul puts it in terms of where a person’s citizenship is.
a. When our primary citizenship is in this world, then our eyes, minds and hearts are mostly focused on worldly things.
b. But when our primary citizenship is in heaven, then our eyes, minds and hearts are mostly focused on spiritual things.
4. My aim today is to help us evaluate where our focus is and to help us determine to keep our focus on the spiritual.
5. Let’s see how Paul develops these truths in our text for today and let’s begin where Paul began by looking at “Dwellers on Earth who are Citizens of Earth.”
I. Dwellers on Earth, and Citizens of Earth
A. Paul began today’s section of Scripture with the bold directive – “Follow my example!”
1. He wrote: “Join with others in following my example, brothers and sisters, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” (Phil. 3:17)
2. Paul has made similar appeals in his other letters.
a. “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example.” (2 Thess. 3:7)
b. “You became imitators of us and of the Lord…” (1 Thess. 1:6)
c. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)
3. Why did Paul charge others to follow his example?
a. Was it because he was conceited and just enjoyed having people follow him?
b. No, it was because he was concerned about others and was doing his best to be a good example for others to follow.
4. Truthfully, most people are followers rather than leaders.
a. Therefore, people are looking for someone they can imitate.
b. Paul wanted others to know that he was intentionally trying to be the best example he could be so that others could follow his example.
c. Most of us would be uncomfortable making a statement like Paul’s and we would rather say, “Do as I say, not as I do,” or follow my example only at certain times, and I will tell you those times.
5. Over the years, we have heard many high profile athletes say, “I don’t want to be a role model for others. Don’t follow my example.”
a. But unfortunately, others are going to follow our example whether we like it or not, or whether we are aware of it or not.
b. Therefore, it is best if we strive to have the kind of life before God that is a good example at all times.
6. All Christians should be the best example we can be, but our ministers, elders and deacons, and their wives need to be especially vigilant about providing a good example.
a. Our brothers and sisters in Christ need our good example.
b. Our children need our good example.
c. And our neighbors, friends, and coworkers need our good example.
7. Later in our text we will see that Paul shared more about a good example that has the right focus, but before he did that, he described some who were very poor examples.