Summary: Because of the propensity to think only of ourselves which destroys the unity of the body of Christ, we are reminded to combat our selfishness with an attitude of service to others.
[Announce Text] Please take your Bibles and turn with me to the New Testament epistle to the Philippians – Philippians chapter 2. We will be reading the first four verses of the chapter.
[Scripture Introduction] Known as one of Paul’s “Prison Epistles,” Philippians was written during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment. From this letter, it is evident that the church in Philippi had maintained a close relationship with Paul. In chapter one, Paul exhorts the Philippians to overcome adversaries outside of the church. In chapter two, Paul switches gears and now turns his attention to the enemies that lie within. It seems that Paul has knowledge of growing tensions within the Philippian church body. To deal with this, he instructs them on the value of imitating Christ’s relationship with His Father as they deal with their own interpersonal relationships.
[Reannounce and Read Text] If you have found your text and are able, I would like to ask that you please stand in honor to the reading of God’s holy Word. Philippians chapter two, verses one through four.
[Prayer for wisdom and anointing] Today, I would like to preach a message entitled, “Winning the Battle Against Selfishness.” Let’s pray.
[Introduction] Probably no one here this morning would say that they enjoy being around someone who is consumed with self. But we must admit that in our world today, the individual who is proud, self-centered, goal-driven, powerful, and wealthy is one who is seen as destined for greatness. Notwithstanding, being a Christian doesn’t remove the internal desire of our sinful natures for selfish ambition and personal greatness [FCF]. We find this truth in Mark 10:35-37, where James and John come to Jesus with the attitude of, “Give us what we want!” What was so important that they would come and demand that the Son of God become a genie in a bottle and do whatsoever they desired? Simple. They allowed selfish ambitions to move front and center, and they wanted to be number one.
Just as in Christ’s day, we too like to be the center of focus. As James and John proved, preachers are sometimes the worst ones for this. We like to be told that we have preached a good message. We like seeing altars full. We like being the top bill for revival services or for that weekend seminar. We just like having our egos stroked.
Interestingly though, Jesus did not tell James and John that they could not achieve greatness. Rather, He made it clear that they could. However, the method that Jesus advocated was not what they had expected. Jesus knew that they wanted authority, and He recognized that the world’s system for greatness was based on who possessed the most authority. However, His response was for them to imitate Him, for “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” So according the Jesus, “whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.”
[Proposition] Because of the propensity to think only of ourselves which destroys the unity of the body of Christ, we are reminded to combat our selfishness with an attitude of service to others.
Realizing the contention that selfish attitudes cause within the church, Paul writes from prison exhorting the Philippian believers to adopt the same attitude for which Christ was characterized.
[Main Point 1] Paul’s Reminder to the Philippians: To repel a selfish spirit, we must remember the blessings we have received as a result of our union in Christ.
As the motive to induce obedience in response to what he is about to exhort, the Apostle begins by reminding the church of the blessings they have received of Christ. He lists four that he is sure they have enjoyed.
[Subpoint 1] To avoid selfishness, we are to remember how Christ encourages us.
Paul writes of the Philippians “consolation in Christ.” This speaks of encouragement and exhortation. The Apostle, certainly more than most, understood their persecutions, and he reminds them of the encouragement they receive from Christ as they face each trial. This encouragement serves as a motivating tool to exhort them to a higher walk; one that imitates Christ’s. Paul echoes this in his writing to the Thessalonians: “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (II Thes. 2:16-17).
Life is not easy. It was Job who said, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (14:1). Jesus Himself stated, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). Being a Christian does not exempt up from a life of heartache and persecution. The Bible promises us no bed of roses or red carpet treatment. Life is hard, and it rains on the just as it does on the unjust.