‘More alive than ever’: (Philippians 2:5-18) Joy and ‘more alive than ever’ are synonyms. As Paul sat in prison he longed for the Philippian believers to ‘shine like stars in the universe’ (v15). But at the same time he was a realist. He despairs that Timothy is his only surrogate who sincerely is interested in their welfare (2:20). He pleads with Euodia and Syntyche to just get along (4:2) G.K. Chesterton once responded to a newspaper ad inviting response to the question; ‘What is wrong with the world?’, with ‘Sirs, I am.’ So it is that we are own worst enemy when it comes to happiness. So Paul admonishes in this passage:
1. Think like Jesus.
2. Revel in your salvation.
3. Live grumble free.
Think like Jesus? Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him. To misquote a Snickers commercial – ‘You’re not you when you’re not like Jesus.’ (I’m thinking of Danny Trejo playing Marcia BradyJ. Jesus emptied himself (denied himself), took on the form of a human slave (took up his cross), and was obedient to death on a cross (followed his Father). We are exalted with him.
Revel in your salvation? ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work his good pleasure.’ (vv12,13) Why not revel? He’s already at work. You’re aware that he’s at work. And he’s happy with what he’s doing!
Live grumble free? God has to tell us ‘don’t grumble’ because we do grumble. It’s human nature. That’s why the second word our kids learn is ‘no’. (The first is ‘daddy’:) This is why ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I forgive you’ are so important. It’s soooo hard!
(1) So never forget that this is a process of trial and error full of grace.
(2) But it takes purpose. We must recognize & reject complaining in all its forms. (perhaps I should do a 10 part sermon series on this:) We must choose to fill our lives with God’s Word and good thoughts. As I reminded you yesterday, ‘TV eats brain cells’. If you don’t believe me take this little test: Watch TV for two hours and then see how you respond when your wife asks you to rub her feet. Grumpy!
(3) The goal is to shine like stars in the universe. (v15) That is a tall order. But it is what sets apart the believer ‘in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation’. What!? The thing that sets me apart is that I shine, grumble free, in the midst of a grumbling, complaining world?? Lord help me! But don’t put this expectation on fellow believers. Paul caps this lesson off with: ‘Even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.’ (v17) Paul say, I’m not going to wait to share my joy when I see you live up to my expectations. I’m going to spill all over you right now!