We’ve been going through the fantastic epistle of Philippians in our church here in South Carolina. As one member of our preaching team, it was my job several Sundays ago to preach on this letter. I chose to offer some summary-type considerations.
The first was simply, IF God’s Word can be trusted, then
I. My prayer life will be revolutionized (1:3-6). I will learn to pray with JOY for others, pray for our partnerships in the gospel, and pray for God’s continuing & maturing work in the lives of others. The second truth I found in surveying the book of Philippians was this: IF God’s Word can be trusted, then
2. My view of life and death will be revised (1:20-24). I will say with the Apostle Paul that to live is Christ and to die is gain!
3. My perspective on suffering will be matured (1:29-30). There we saw in verses 29-30 that 29 it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. I then said that it is beyond my understanding how some prosperity preachers can insist that it is the believer’s birthright NOT to suffer. Verse 29 clearly says, “It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.” Suffering is a GIFT in this text, is it not? If BELIEVING in Him is a gift, so is SUFFERING!
We move now to the fourth implication of the book of Philippians IF God’s Word can be trusted. IF God’s Word can be trusted, then . . .
4. MY SELF-IMAGE WILL BE CHALLENGED (2:1-5). There we read, 1 Therefore 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 tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus . . .
Paul is quite direct here, isn’t he? If we have any of these blessings in Christ (encouragement, comfort, sharing in the Spirit, tenderness & compassion), then we will strive to be like-minded and be unified with other believers. We will seek to do nothing out of selfish ambition. But we will value others above ourselves, looking on the interests of others. And we will strive to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus!
Wow! In a culture which says, LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE NOW, PULL YOUR OWN STRINGS, LOOK OUT FOR #1, God’s Word says, PUT OTHERS FIRST, SEEK UNITY WITH OTHER BELIEVERS, HAVE THE MINDSET OF JESUS CHRIST!
Someone named Deborah Espect wrote a book with the captivating . title, My Self, The Enemy The World Health Organization’s statement at the bottom of the front cover reads: “One million people commit suicide every year.”
Suicide is awful, of course, but when we live for ourselves, when we allow our “self-image” to guide us rather than the Word of God, we are committing spiritual suicide, don’t you think?
Discussion Questions: (1) How does our culture value self-image above truth? (2) What steps can the believer in Jesus take to combat this world’s suicidal propaganda?