The selflessness of Christ – Philippians 2:14-18
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 6, 2016
With every weed pulled I grumbled, “Why did I have to do this today? It’s Saturday, I want to go play with my friends. This stinks! I hate weeding!” My father overheard me and reminded me that I should willingly give up a part of my Saturday to do the work because my mother needed it done. By weeding I was helping her use her time better and it displayed a selfless act. Of course being eight-years-old I didn’t care about being selfless; selfishness is an eight-year-old’s creed! Sadly, it seems the eight-year-old credo has infected many adult Christians as well.
If we are to truly understand what Jesus did on the cross, we have to understand Jesus himself. Last week we discussed Jesus’ humility and his being God. We also talked about how our attitude is to be the same as that of Jesus. Here in the next few verses we discover just how unselfish Jesus was and we come to realize what following him means for our lives as well. Let’s discover how this morning…
I cannot figure out why we still do daylight saving time. We do not have to get up with the sun and go to sleep with it anymore and wouldn’t it be far better to just permanently switch to one hour later and leave it there permanently so we could enjoy more daylight while driving to and from work? In fact this might work for the Christian! Here’s what I mean: Perhaps we need to adjust the Christian’s daylight savings time as well? Paul teaches us that…
I. A disciplined life shines in a sin-darkened world! (Vv. 14-16a)
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–
1. Discipline is a lost word in our society; whether it is disciplining our children or ourselves, it seems as if we do not care. Parents want schools to raise their kids but woe be it to any school that dares to discipline little Johnny for being the selfish, rebellious, and disrespectful little cretin they have raised. Jesus bluntly told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV) In fact later Jesus would reiterate, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27 NIV) and Paul would remind us that if indeed we are saved then we would understand that “It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age”.(Titus 2:12 NIV) Few in our day understand this and even fewer live it. Jesus was not teaching self-deprivation or one’s withdrawal from the world; rather he was trying to show us that following him costs; even sometimes our own personal desires of the moment. That is why Paul writes that like Jesus we should “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation”. It is a “depraved generation” that only looks out for number one first. Literally he meant grumbling and fighting for the believer is not just unseemly; it is downright disgusting. We as believers are to be faultless innocents in a perverse world “in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life”! Wow! For Paul a true star was someone willing to live for Jesus, not some grandiose nitwit that decries global warming while holding a gold-plated tin statue, and then leaves in his personal limo and flies away in his private jet to one of his several mansions. Paul teaches us that a disciplined life shines in a sin-darkened world!
EXAMPLE: It is amazing to me that the Creator of the universe made such wonderful things as lightening bugs. These tiny little critters carry within their itty bitty bodies the ability to light up the night with their rear ends as they try to attract a mate. Like tiny little stars they shine in the darkness doing what God created them to do. Why is it so difficult for believers to do the task God has given them? I believe it is because we have forgotten what our part in God’s plan is all about. And while Jesus did come to save us individually, he also left so that the world would come to know him through us. Like those lightening bugs we have a God-given purpose. We are to live such good lives in a sin-darkened world that we shine like stars! A disciplined life shines in a sin-darkened world!
It used to be that when a child messed up the parents were embarrassed, especially if it was done in public or at school. Not today; in fact many want to find another scapegoat to blame other than themselves or their child for the problem. Yet, whether you like it or not your children, to some degree, are a reflection of you. Sure they can make their own choices, but they did learned how from the likes of you. This is why Paul taught…
II. A disciplined life brings joy! (Vv. 16b-18)
–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
1. There was an old rock song that went, “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want!” It has become the personal anthem for most in our nation. We live in a day and age where we actually think that a bellicose billionaire with a bad hairdo is a rebel or a self-aggrandized wife of a womanizer socialist elitist can sympathize with the common man! The reason is because people are frustrated with those who make promises but never deliver. Paul desired that believers shine like stars in a depraved sin-darkened world because folks needed to see the difference between a life lived for Jesus and one lived for the moment. He wanted to be encouraged by them when he wrote, “in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” Paul did not want his work in their lives to be in vain nor did he want the world to see that a life in Jesus meant nothing! Paul understood that the only gift he left behind in his life was one of mentorship. This is why he told the Thessalonian Christians, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19 NIV) Like Isaiah he did not want to confess to God when he saw him face-to-face, “I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.” And like Isaiah, Paul knew that his “reward is with my God.” (Isaiah 49:4 NIV) His joy was first and foremost found in his faith in Christ and then those he had discipled! The wording here means either to “hold out” or “hold firmly.” The former fits better here. It was used in secular Greek of offering wine to a guest at a banquet. As the Philippian believers held out the word of life to others, Paul would then be able to boast that he had not labored in vain. In fact, Paul knew that even if he was “being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from [their] faith”, he could be “glad and rejoice with all of” them! A disciplined life brings joy!
EXAMPLE: When I was struggling with a certain piece of music during orchestra practice our conductor would rap his wand on my music stand and declare, “Discipline Mr. Hemen, disciple!” Later when I was attending boot camp our chief drill instructor would yell at us, “Discipline, gentlemen, is the first step to order in life!” The idea of discipline in the life of a musician or sailor is so that every member of the orchestra or unit will function as they should; each doing their part so that the whole piece can come together or so that the entire ship can function smoothly. Too many believers in our day and age have forgotten that we are not just individuals in Jesus; we are to function as the body of Christ — His church. This is why Paul would write the Corinthians, who were a selfish lot, that “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26-27 NIV) A disciplined life brings joy!
A disciplined life shines in a sin-darkened world! A disciplined life brings joy!
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.