Posted by: Heather | December 8, 2008

Philippians

This last Sunday, I preached the last sermon in our series about Philippians. This sermon was a review of the whole book. The study in preparing for this Sunday was very interesting to me, and as I have stated before, the purpose of this blog is to sort of record where God has taken me as I studied for these sermons. So, here goes.

Philippians is a book that has several recurring themes, or underlying currents. There is the underlying current of joy and rejoicing in suffering. There is the underlying theme of contentment and confidence. There is the theme of citizenship in heaven. There is the theme of likemindedness or unity of spirit.

In the first 26 verses Paul talks about himself and where he is.

We realize as we read this that there are 3 things that are bothering Paul. However, you have to really look at it to notice it because Paul has God’s joy in his heart.

The first thing bothering Paul is that he misses the Philippians. However, he doesn’t pine away for them, instead; he prays for them with thankfulness to God. He prays with joy and confidence that God will continue the work he started. (chapter 1:1-8) He prays that their love – God’s love in them – will grow in knowledge of the truth so that they will approve the things that are right. this will result in a righteousness in them that glorifies God rather than themselves. (chapter 1:9-11).

The second thing bothering him is that people are trying to cause trouble for him. However, his choice to this is to recognize the truth that people are talking about Christ who otherwise would not be. He chooses to rejoice about this. (chapter 1:12-18)

The third thing bothering him is that he doesn’t know if he is going to live or die. He appears to say that he knows he will live, but later in chapter 2 he talks about “if” he is being poured out as a drink offering. What this tells me is that he doesn’t know if he will live or die, but has decided to live as though he will continue to live, because that is better for others. (chapter 1:18-26)

There is a key here in observing how Paul responded to these problems. He took himself out of the middle and determined that the things which were important to God and the kingdom were the things that mattered to him.

In verse 27 he make a transition and begins instructing and encouraging the readers. From here on the book is a series of paragraphs that begin with instructions. These people are ready to face (possibly already facing) troubling times. Paul is telling them what their focus should be on.

The first instruction is to live in a way that matches the gospel. Or to walk worthy of the Gospel. He speaks of striving together. This is not striving with one another, but along side each other. The word striving in this context is an athletic word that brings to mind extreme effort and concentration. When you put that word with “together” my thought is of an offensive line pushing together to move the ball up the field. This “striving together” sets the stage for what I believe is the core of the book.

Next he instructs them to be likeminded. (Phil 2:1-5) However, there is much more to the instruction to be likeminded than meets the eye at first reading. He says if Christ has come alongside them when they were helpless and rescued them; if they have received any comfort from God’s love; if they are on the same side of the struggle as the Holy Spirit; and if they have any empathy in God’s mercy – then they are to finish the job of completing Paul’s joy. What does it mean to complete Paul’s joy” Look at chapter 1 verse 6. They are to complete Paul’s joy by having the same goal. That goal is to exude God’s love. It is not to be a surface thing, and it is to be their single purpose (2:2). What does that look like? They are to do nothing from selfishness or empty boasting about themselves, but in humility of mind they are to value others above themselves. (2:1-4)

What is the standard of valuing others above ourselves? We are to have the same mind that Jesus had, while being God, he estimated our value higher than his own, and gave all of it up to die a criminals death in our place. God then raised him above all. (2:5-11)

So it looks like this. I am to estimate the value of everyone above me, and I am to estimate the value of Christ above all. In my mind, this is the core instruction and underlying truth of the whole book.

He follows this instruction by telling them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. This is often misused I think. This statement is not about “good works” It is about good attitude. How do I know? He just finished talking about the mind of Christ in estimating our value higher than his own. directly afterword he says to do all things without murmuring or arguing. Let me say it a different way. This working out our salvation is not about what we do. It is about who we are. (2:12-18)

Then he says that to help them along in this pursuit of likemindedness (by the way, our likemindedness with each other is incidental, our likemindedness with Christ is the key) Paul is going to send two people to them who are living examples of likemindedness. Timothy, and Epaphroditus are being sent. He says no one is likeminded like Timothy. Then he talks about how Epaphroditus almost died in the service of the Lord on their behalf, but his greatest worry was that they had heard he was sick and were worried about him. (2:19-30)

Next he begins giving them practical advice in how this “mind of Christ” when applied will be the solution to their problems as well. (it was the solution to Paul’s problems as illustrated in chapter 1)

The first problem he addresses is the temptation to focus on our own pedigree or resume. He shows how if that were the name of the game he would be in pretty good shape. But the things in his past that were gain to him, he counts as a burden, or a dangerous trap. He explains that they are to put no confidence in themselves. The solution? Rejoice in Christ, and put no confidence in the flesh. (3:1-10)

The second problem he addresses is those who would conclude that since we can put no confidence in the flesh, then we must be able to do whatever we want. However, he points to his own attitude of eagerly straining forward to lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of him. At this juncture he reminds them their citizenship is in heaven (again, likeminded with Christ – rather than just consider what I can get away with) (3:11-21)

He then addresses the problems that happen between those of us who should be likeminded. (4:1-5) He encourages them to rejoice in Christ and be marked by a sweet reasonableness because Christ is at hand. (right there with them – I don’t need to fight with you if I remember that Christ my defender is right next to me. Also, I am less likely to misbehave myself when I consider that “Dad” is watching)

He then broadens it to all problems. He says not to worry about anything, but instead to communicate the worry to Christ with prayer, petition, and thankfulness. Then they are to turn from the concern and concentrate on the the good things that are true. Whatsoever things are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue, of praise; think on these things . . . and the God of peace will be with you. (4:6-9)

Paul then discusses the contentment he has because of this likemindedness with Christ. (4:10-19) He explains how he rejoices because of their generosity to him, but mostly because of the fact that it demonstrates that they are already becoming likeminded with Christ and it will result in gain to their account. He has learned the secret of being content with much and with little. That secret is that he can do with both through Christ who gives him strength.

Paul closes the letter how he opened it, with a prayer for them for God’s grace. Likemindedness with Christ is not something we can grab on our own. It must be granted by God as he lives within us.

For what it is worth, just my summary of the book.

We are to value everyone above ourselves, and Christ above all. The closer we come to this mind set (or really heart attitude) the more we become untouchable to the world.

Craig

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: