Summary: Part of a series in Philippians, we are challenged to practice humility as Christ demonstrated.
Mark Hodges (SC.com) During the days when Mohammed Ali was a great boxer, he would go around in his arrogance and say, "I am the greatest." Humility was never his strong suit. One day, back in his prime, he was on an airplane and the plane was ready to take off and the flight attendant had repeatedly told him to put on his seat belt. He finally told her, "I’m superman and superman don’t need no seatbelt." The flight attendant didn’t hesitate a minute but shot back with, "Superman don’t need no airplane either, now buckle up."
(Illustrations Unlimited, SC.com) A pastor finally got an opportunity to speak at a large community association gathering. He felt rather proud that he was asked, so he refused the check, saying that he felt special enough just by being chosen and that the check should go to a better cause.
Reluctantly, the person giving the check said there was a special fund that this money could be used for. When the pastor asked about the special fund, the person said, "It’s so that we can get a better speaker next year."
It’s time for a humility check. I was hoping there would be a much greater crowd to preach to today, but I guess we could all use some humility.
Review Phil. Turn to Phil. 2:1-4.
Last week, we looked at suffering for Christ due to opposition outside the church.
Paul now shifts his focus to potential dissension/opposition within the church.
We’ve already seen Paul’s love for the Philippians and their love and concern for him.
Paul now takes advantage of that concern and challenges them to use that on each other.
I’d like to set this passage up by way of an illustration.
My lifelong dream when I was growing up was to become a paramedic.
•Becoming a paramedic wasn’t that simple.
•There were certain prerequisites/qualifications that needed to be met before I could even enroll in a Training Class.
•I had to be an EMT, I had to have 6 mon. experience, I had to fill out an extensive application, I had to be recommended by my local rescue squad.
•Having met the qualifications, I still wasn’t a paramedic. I needed to take the training.
•My goal, remember, was to become a paramedic.
•How did I achieve that? By lots of study and lots of practice.
In our passage today, Paul challenges the Philippians with a goal.
•But before they could begin to reach that goal, they had to meet 4 qualifications/conditions.
•Then, as they pursued this goal, he shows them what to study/practice.
WHAT IS PAUL’S GOAL? Make Him Happy.
On the surface, Paul’s goal is complete joy. We’ll look later at what his/God’s real goal is.
I. WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS?
How can we make Paul and God happy?
A. Encouragement (from being united with Christ)
2:1IF therefore YOU HAVE ANY ENCOURAGEMENT/comfort FROM BEING UNITED WITH CHRIST,
ENCOURAGEMENT – “coming to one’s side/aid”
Here’s one qualification the Philippians have already met.
Paul has already written that they have received comfort from their unity in Christ.
Last week, we saw Paul encourage them toward deeper unity in Christ.
How many times have we been encouraged because we are united with Christ?
B. Comfort (of love)
IF ANY COMFORT FROM (HIS) LOVE,
This is better translated, “if any consolation of love”, not just Christ’s love.
“If you have been consoled/refreshed/comforted from the love of Christ and others…”
Again, it’s obvious from Ch. 1 that they had met this qualification.
C. Fellowship (in the Spirit)
IF ANY FELLOWSHIP WITH/in THE SPIRIT,
Again, throughout Ch. 1, Paul has encouraged them in their fellowship/partnership.
1:5 – their partnership in the Gospel; v. 7 their sharing in God’s grace.
Again, they have already met this condition.
Notice here, their fellowship is in the Spirit, not necessarily fellowship with each other.
IF ANY TENDERNESS AND COMPASSION/mercy,
TENDERNESS – “bowels/inward parts”, affections, seat of emotion
Illus. Tin man in Wizard of Oz. “If I only had a heart.”
Did the Philippians demonstrate tenderness and compassion toward Paul? Absolutely!
Paul uses a rhetorical statement to challenge them in their goal.
“If you have any encouragement or comfort or fellowship or mercy, which is clear that you have all of them, then take that a step further.”
How can they do that? That’s what Paul’s/God’s real goal is.
II. WHAT IS THE REAL GOAL? (What is God’s Goal?) Unity
2THEN MAKE MY JOY COMPLETE. Fulfill my joy. Make me (and God) happy.
Paul knows they’re concerned for him. He knows they want to encourage him.
So he says, “you want to really make me happy, here’s what you need to do.”
•You need to have unity.
Apparently, in all of Paul’s praises for the Philippians, he also realizes a real concern.