In chapter one, Paul dealt with the fact that he is in jail and the Philippians sent messengers to him to see if there was anything they could do for him. Paul wants to assure them that he is ok. Do not worry about me. He reassures them that he is where God wants him to be and that the Gospel is being spread because of his chains. However, here in chapter two we see a change. This is because Paul has heard a report that there are problems and divisions in the church. People that do not get along they somehow are missing the great purpose for which God has saved them. And the reason why God has put them there together in that local body. Now Paul being a very wise pastor and a master motivator uses their relationship to get them to do the right thing. It as though in chapter 2 he says, “oh if there is something you want to do for me here it is.”
This is an incredible passage and a lot of times when people teach or preach this passage they are tempted to go straight to verses 5-11. And focus on Jesus and what an incredible view of Jesus it gives us and that short span of verses it as though Paul goes all the way back into eternity before the world was, where God the son Jesus accepts the responsibility to become the sacrifice for all humanity. Jesus did not grasp equality with God he laid aside his powers and we see that incredible scene in heaven and it would be easy for us to go right there to it because it is so weighty and so incredible. I can understand why preachers want to get to Jesus. However, I think that it is easy to miss Paul’s purpose when we do that. I think it is easy to miss the main point of this passage. Paul’s purpose is not to merely show us this mind of Christ, he fits it into an overall argument that I think we fail to get if we just jump to verse 5.
Today we are going to look at this passage because I feel like God has placed it on my heart. I have just finished up my masters of divinity degree and before I graduated I had to write and exegetical paper on 2 Corinthians 1 and I was really excited about coming here tonight and sharing what I learned in that passage with you all. And only my wife truly knows the excitement I get in taking a passage and writing an exegetical paper, but in preparing for this sermon and trying to take that paper from an academic form to a sermon, God placed this passage on my heart and as I got studying it I realized why.
The title of tonight’s sermon is called “what do we do now?” We have just heard Jason Sharp speak three times and now he is going back to Texas. So assuming we vote to call him to our church, what do we do while we wait? And I believe this passage is speaking to us on how to make sure that we are ready for when our pastor gets here so that we can have a happy pastor.
I like to think of it like this. When I was coaching wrestling in Louisville, I had a wrestler that went to college to wrestle. When he would come back during the holiday breaks to workout with us, all of the high school wrestlers would be amazed by how good he was. While he was showing them some moves and giving them advice, I overheard one of them say well you can do that because you are in college. I interrupted and said, so your telling me that when he stepped foot on a college campus he all of sudden became a good wrestler? I said of course not, it was because he did the right things while he was in high school, is the reason why he got to go to college to wrestle.
Likewise, I am saying the same to you all. You are not going to magically turn into a better church at the arrival of a pastor. Therefore, do not wait until we have a pastor, to share the gospel with your neighbor, do not wait until we have a pastor to start joining the choir, do not wait until we have a pastor invite someone to church, do not wait until you have a pastor to start a Bible Study in your home, do not wait until you have a pastor to go on a mission trip, do not wait until we have a pastor to worship God through tithing, do not wait until you have a pastor to be totally committed to this church, do not wait until we have a pastor to do the right things now, so that when God does provide us with a pastor, we will be ready to be who we are suppose to be in Christ so that he can lead us in the direction that God wants us to go.
In this passage, we are going to see what Paul would have us to do during this time to make sure that we have a happy pastor and a happy church when he does arrive. So what will make our new pastor happy? I pray that we are hiring someone that is like Paul, that a nice pay package is not going to make him happy, nor a bigger house, nor a newer car, but is like Paul in the things that Paul lists in this passage that makes him happy will also make our new pastor happy and result in a happy church.
The first way that will make the new pastor happy is in verse one. And that is having a sympathetic predisposition. What do I mean? Well, let us look at the four ifs in verse one.
- If there is any encouragement in Christ
- If any comfort from love
- If any fellowship in the Spirit
- If any affection and sympathy
Basically, what Paul is saying is if you are sympathetic towards me then there is something that you can do for me to make me happy. I believe that for any church to really do something for Christ you will need to have a love relationship between pastor and the people. I believe that you must have a sympathetic predisposition towards the person that is bringing you the Word of God. If you do not trust someone’s character, if you do not trust someone’s abilities. You are just not going to listen to them. Paul knew that the Philippians listened to him because he knew that they knew that he was a real man of God. He wanted more than anything to glorify and honor Christ. Therefore, using their affection for him, their love for him, and using that sympathetic disposition towards him, he says make me happy.
Now this is a two-way street. As my pastor back in Louisville pounded in my head, that the congregation is not going to care how much I know, until you know how much I care for you. So I pray that if your heart is like mine you have already developed a sympathetic disposition for him and his family and long for his arrival. Not just because I am telling you to but also because you already see how much he cares for you. And I know he feels the same way about you all because that is what drew Kaley and I here was your love for us when we came and interviewed.
Now the second way that you can make sure that you have a happy pastor is the same way that Paul tells the Philippians they can make him happy. Paul goes on to verse 2 and says you have to have a shared purpose. It is the joy of all pastors to see people like-minded and living in one love. Paul gives us four areas to work on to make sure that we have the same purpose.
- Same mind
- One Love
- One Soul
- One mind
First of all, you have to have the same mind. Complete our New Pastor’s Joy by being of the same mind. If we all have a different mind and different ideas about what the truth is and what we believe about the Bible. Say if one person says well I believe that the Bible is full of myths and fables and another person says I believe that it is mostly true, and another says well I believe all of it. If we have different minds, on what I would consider the most important issue in the church, the measuring stick of our faith, then we are not going to have unity in the church body.
This is why doctrines are important. We all are theologians because we all have thoughts about God. If you do not listen to theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you will have a lot of wrong ones. Therefore, we need to be untied on what we believe in. Especially the big issues like, Bible, who Jesus is, and why are we here on this earth. Sound Doctrines is the only thing that can unite a bunch of unique sinners like us. Therefore, the beginning of love is harmony of views, but that is not sufficient, unless our hearts are at the same time joined together in mutual affection. This leads us to our second point.
You have to have one love. Or, Being of the same love. We all have different loves. Some of you love horses, some of you love Kentucky Basketball, some of you love food, some of you all love football, some of you love the winter, some of you all cannot wait until summer, some of you love music, and some of you all love books. But the one love that we all must have and this love must be above all our other loves and that is the love of Jesus Christ. See Jesus cannot be one love that you have among many, as though you just fit him into your life on Sundays and put him on the list with horses, KY basketball and food. You cannot say oh yeah I love Jesus too. Our love for Jesus has to be above all others.
Jesus put it like this, unless you hate your father and mother your brother and sister you cannot be my disciple. What did he mean by that? That we should have a hatred for people that we love instead of love? No, what he is saying is that our love for him should be so great and powerful that any love that we have for anything else should be so far distant that it even looks like hatred in comparison to our love for Christ.
There should be no competition for our love for Jesus. We should love him better than life itself. And you will find that you love others in your life far more when you put them in second place than if you were to get it out of whack and put them in first place and put Jesus second. I often say to Kaley your my number 2, and she knows that is the most loving thing I can say to her, because if I was to put her number 1, then I would be putting on her unrealistic expectation to fulfill my joy. If I put her number 1, she is going to fail me. And I will live a life in constant resentment because I put someone number 1 that continually fails me.
Likewise, anything that you are putting number one is going to fail you too. People will disappoint you, other people change, other people will die, and if you have put them first in your life you are going to find it hard to live after betrayal or loss. Jesus will never betray you and Jesus has already died and risen from the dead so He will never forsake you.
You put him first and you will never be disappointed. Christians will let you down. We are not perfect, but here at this church, we do not worship the church members, we worship the one that is the Lord Jesus Christ and I point you to him. Likewise, when we get a pastor we are not going to worship the pastor, we are going to worship Jesus. Jesus will never let you down. I will let you down and the new pastor will eventually let you down, but remember it is not the pastors you are worshipping it is Jesus Christ and He will never let you down.
Paul tells us to have the same mind, one love, and then to be in full accord. Which means we are of one soul. That we are knit so tightly through the love of God, through salvation that it is ours through Jesus Christ that we have one soul. Since there is only one Holy Spirit and each of us believers have the Holy Spirit in us we should be moving as we have one soul. Now that is pretty tight, you cannot have that with people that do not know the Lord, this is why John says in first John that everyone that truly loves has been born of God, apart from the love of Jesus Christ you cannot have the deepest and truest intimacy with anybody else.
And you all know what I am talking about, when we get together in the fellowship hall and the holy spirit is uniting us all, He takes a bunch of people that should not be able to get together, for example a TN football fan and KY basketball fan what do those two have in common, nothing, but if we have Christ than we see how insignificant that is and we can talk about the things of the Lord. Or take Stuart Hurd and Cole Clark, what does a Senior in High School and an 8th grader have in common. Nothing, but when they have Christ they share the same Sunday school room because they are eager to hear God’s Word spoken to them. What did the first hymn we sung tonight have in common with the song Kaley and Melissa sung have in common, nothing in style, but in worship it had everything in common because it was worshipping our Lord, Savior, and Treasure. That is how the church should be. Laying down our preferences because we love God more than anything else.
Paul reminds us that if we have a shared purpose, then we will have same mind, one love, one soul and then he says having of one mind. How is this different from having the same mind? Well remember having the same mind meant that we believe the same about crucial things such as the Bible is God’s Word. Having one mind is having the same focus and thoughts. We can have different thoughts on politics or favorite sports teams or favorite food, we can have different thoughts on a lot of things, but we better have one focus on the Lord Jesus Christ.
When we have a shared purpose. That is when church gets good. When we each quit clinging to our own agendas, we stop guarding our own rights and our own groups, when it stops being about us and starts being about others that is when Paul says you are making him happy. Because that is when you are making the Lord happy. How do you do that?
Well in verse 3 Paul says it has to be from a selfless motivation. You cannot do anything from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. We live in a conceited society do we not? We do everything we can to make ourselves look better, to pump ourselves up, and to beautify ourselves.
This can be seen on Facebook. I am amazed by how about half the pictures on Facebook are like this. We take so many pictures of ourselves that we are so conceited that we do not even bother to have someone else around we just take a picture of ourselves. And now the iPhone 4 and the brand new one that just came out makes it even easier because they put the camera on both sides of the phone so that you can actually look at yourself while you are taking a picture of yourself. And upload it to your Facebook for everyone else to see how gorgeous you are.
We are a conceited society, but Paul says you have to do nothing out of conceit. Because it is not about you. You have to be motivated by something and a purpose far greater than yourself. What is that? Well look at the end of verse three and on into verse four, Paul says you have to in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Now that is hard for us to do. Especially in this church because a lot of you own your own business, own your own farm, we are a church of leaders. We are used to doing what it takes to get a head and to look after ourselves. You are used to fighting for your piece of the pie. That works for your business and that is why so many of you have been successful, but that is a horrible model for the Church of Jesus Christ.
And if we get so saturated in that culture and we bring that culture in here, come budget time we will be fighting for our own ministries, or we all will be fighting for our favorite kind of music, or we will all be pushing for what we think the preacher should be preaching or we all will be pushing for what we think the youth ministry should look like. If we do this then we are not going to have one mind that Paul is speaking about in this passage.
Why is this so tough, it is because it is against our nature, of course we care about ourselves, of course we care more about our stuff than anybody else does. By nature we are the person Facebook holding the camera out saying look at me. How can we change that mindset? Well, Paul gives us the answer in verse 5-11. Paul gives us an example of someone that came and lived a life without selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility counted others more significant than himself.
Verses 5-11 are broken into two sections.
- First of which Paul invites us to imitate Christ to join him in his humility. (v. 5-8)
- Secondly Paul allures us to humility because this is the road by which we attain true glory. Therefore, God exhorts everyone that has the same disposition that was in Christ. (v. 9-11)
Let us first look at how Christ humbled himself so that we will be better able to understand how we are to do likewise. The primary intent of this passage is to teach us how to live out the “attitude of Christ by following the example of Christ.
Jesus Christ who was God emptied himself, by taking form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. He did not try to grasp at His equality with God, He did not try to defend His position, but for you and I humbled himself to come and die for our sins.
We see that Christ humbled himself by:
- Emptying himself of all of his rights.
You are never less like Jesus than when you are defending your turf. Jesus never did that. He stood up for others, but never himself.
- Jesus made himself nothing taking the form of a servant.
He came from heaven from where the angels worshipped him, to come to earth a baby in a dirty manager. He came a poor man and a baby man, helpless in a bed of straw. And God now has to submit himself to his earthly mother and father. He became obedient even to death itself. But not just any death, death at the cross, the worse kind of death, a death that was meant to be for the worst kind of criminals. How can we think that it is about us when Jesus made it so much about others?
Now for our question, what can we do now to make sure that we have a happy pastor? I pray that when the pastor, Mary, and I meet as a staff and when we meet with the deacons that we would be able to make changes and do new things without even discussing about who’s feelings are going to be hurt. Not because we do not care, but because we serve in a church that has a sympathetic predisposition towards us, has the same purpose because they are of same mind, one love, one soul, and one mind, and have a selfless motivation . That we would serve in a church that above all else wants what most glorifies Christ, not what hurts the less amount of people’s feelings.
If I could just perform spiritual surgery on every Baptist in America, what I would take out of them is the ability to get their feelings hurt. I am just convinced that we could take the world for Christ if we would just get out of the way and stop having turf wars, worship wars, agendas, and getting our feelings hurt.
Now although I think this church is very good at this already. And that is one of the reasons that drew us to Flemingsburg. And since our arrival we have had numerous examples of how you all have selflessly served us and the Lord.
A couple of examples since we have been here is all the people that have either had us over or taken us out for lunch, Jon and Tammy Johnson are renting us their house, if it were not for them I do not know if Kaley and I would be here yet, Keith Kirkland worked diligently to find Kaley insurance, even if it was through someone that he did not write for, the Hurd’s, Peter’s, and Cooper’s dropping off food by our house. And most recently and most reveals this church’s heart for service is when Kaley told Terri Clark that we were going to try to be there for her surgery, she told Kaley, no, Joe needs to be at cougars for Christ. Here is a woman with cancer getting ready to go into surgery and has all the reason in the world to be thinking of herself, but who is she thinking about? The Middle schoolers in our community.
Therefore, if we are already doing a good job why am I calling you all to be more humble and more sacrificial? This is because you can never be too much like Christ. And just because we are doing good according to worldly standards, there is always room for improvement to become more like the Savior that we are trying to proclaim to this community, and we cannot become of same mind, one love, one soul, and one mind unless we are committed to glorifying God more than ourselves, and because it is so against our nature we have to be dying to our selfishness daily.
What if someone’s a better Sunday school teacher than you. Does that hurt your feelings for them to teach your class rather than you? What if someone is a better singer than you? Does it hurt your feelings if they get to sing a special and you do not? What if that style of music is not your favorite, what if that sermon was not for you, what if the youth did not do your favorite program? If we could just really say, it is not about me than my feelings just do not get hurt.
George Mueller used to say that he would give his heart to such a state that it is not his own. Then I hear God speak. He was literally giving his heart away. He realized that credit for something works best when it is giving away. Oh, if we could just do that. Jesus had every right to assert his right, and did not. What did he do? He humbled Himself and submitted himself. What was the result? Look at verse 9. Therefore for this reason God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What does the submissive mind do? It waits on God to exalt him. We spend our lives trying to get noticed, trying to promote ourselves, trying to exalt ourselves, and the Bible says that God will exalt you in due season. If we spend all our time seeking after the attention of other men, then we might get it, but if we spend all our time seeking after the glory of the Lord, then He will exalt us and give us our reward in heaven. Who would want to settle for an earthy reward, when you could have the best reward there is, in heaven. Our problem is not that we want rewards too much, our problem is that we settle for the earthly rewards. It does not last, it does not accomplish anything. God wants to give you something lasting and eternal the rewards that will never perish.
Three final lessons
- God cannot exalt the proud only the humble.
- If you are exalting yourself God cannot exalt you.
- All people will acknowledge Christ.
Verses 10-11 says every knee should bow, in heaven, and earth, and in Hell and every tongue will say that Jesus is Lord. The entire universe is called to worship Jesus Christ as Lord. This mandate includes the angels in heaven, the spirits of the redeemed, obedient believers on earth, the disobedient rebels on earth, and the demons and lost humanity in hell. Confess means to acknowledge, which is what everyone will eventually do in response to Christ’s lordship, willingly and blessedly or unwillingly and painfully. Therefore, knowing that one day everyone will bow before the Lord, it is better to start doing it today than to wait.
So what do we do now as we wait on the new Pastor?
Philippians 2:1-11 urges us to grow in Christian unity. The secret of this unity is humility: the mind that we have in union with Christ and in the fellowship of the Spirit is to be the mindset we exercise with respect to one another, counting each other of greater importance than we count ourselves. Therefore, we should humble ourselves to the Lord by being of same mind, one love, one soul, one mind so that we will be found glorifying Christ above anything else in this world. So that God will get the most glory out of this church.
Who would not want to serve in a church like that, and who would not want to be a part of a church like that?