Title: Live Worthy
Intro Tyler Hilinski, a twenty-one-year-old, red-shirted sophomore on the Washington State Cougars football team was the odds on favorite to be the starting quarter-back next year. But that will never happen, for he was found dead in his apartment Tuesday after he didn't show up for practice. He died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
His family in California issued a statement saying they were in "complete shock and disarray" over his death.
A makeshift memorial sprouted near the football stadium on the Pullman campus, next to a bronze statue of the team's mascot. Social media were also filled with comments, including one from former Washington State star quarterback Ryan Leaf, who said he couldn't stop crying.
According to National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression, one out of every 12 college students makes a suicide plan and 7.5 students per 100,000 kill themselves.
The stats are similar for athletes. 35 college athletes killed themselves from 2009-15. Twenty-nine were male athletes and 13 played football.
Depression convinces a person that his or her life doesn't matter or that it doesn't matter enough to counter the pain that life is causing them.
But our lives do matter. They matter to family members. They matter to friends and neighbors. They matter to classmates and fellow-workers. They matter to God. In our text today, the apostle Paul, who is in a prison cell, wants the Christians in the city of Philippi to understand how and why their lives matter to God and to others.
God knows and we need to realize that every life touches and impacts a multitude of others. The classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, illustrates this principle so well. In the movie George Bailey finds himself in a mess, no fault of his own, and as a result, he wishes he had never been born. An angel grants his wish and then he sees the consequences of him never having been born. Many people suffered in various ways, including the whole town of Bedford Falls, because George Bailey was never born.
Unfortunately, we haven't been given the opportunity to see how our lives can make a positive and wonderful impact on others for the glory of God. What we can see, however, is a statement from God telling us to live a life that is worthy of the gospel. A life that is lived in such a way to be worthy of the gospel will be one that impacts others for their good and God's glory.
This kind of life begins with God calling us into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. He then calls on us to be the light of the world and salt to the earth. We are God's representatives. We are ambassadors for Christ, consequently, we are to live like it and live worthy of it.
READ TEXT: -31
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
The first thing that stands out in our text is how our lives matter.
I. Our Lives Matter
Satan, however, tries to convince us that we don't matter and how we live doesn't matter. He tells us that we are little fish in a great big ocean, so what we say and do, doesn't really matter. And for some, he tells them, "You're so unimportant, no one will miss you if you decide to end it all, so just give in to your depression."
This, however, is a lie from the pits of hell, and Satan is the father of lies. God says we matter too much to give up, give in, or give out. God says we can make a difference in this world, we can impact lives for the glory of God. We are important to Him and to others.
A. We Matter to God
Paul understood this truth. He wanted the Philippians to understand this truth. God wants us to understand this truth.
We've always been important to God. We mattered even before we knew God and made Christ our Lord and Savior. We mattered so much that God sent His Son into this sin plagued, pain filled, world for us. We matter so much that Christ willingly left a beautiful, joy-filled, pain free place called heaven, in order to come to earth and suffer rejection, ridicule, torture, and death on our behalf.
It is because we do matter to God and to others that we are told in verse one to let our manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ. In lieu of what God and Christ did for us, we are called on to live a life worthy of their actions, worthy of the gospel.
Since we matter to God, we ought to live like it. How we live determines how we impact others for their good and God's glory. Matthew Henry has said in his commentaries, "if our religion is worth anything, it should be worth everything."
If what God and Christ has done for us is worth anything, it is worth everything. If the gospel is worth anything, it's worth everything.
So I ask you now, does the sacrifice Christ made for you, touch you, move you, and create a sense of awe and wonder in you? If it does, then your faith in Christ is worth everything to you? If it does, you will strive, seek, and work to live a life that helps others and glorifies God. But if it doesn't move you, and touch you, then may God once again move you with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Living worthy of the gospel also has to do with understanding that we matter to others as well as to God.
B. We Matter to Others
In our text today and in our previous message we see that Paul's life mattered to the Philippians and the Philippi Christians' mattered to Paul. In fact, in our last message, Paul pointed out how that many were being influenced by his willingness to be imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. He said many had been encouraged and motivated to preach the gospel and to take a bolder stance for the sake of the gospel because of his imprisonment.
Boldness for Christ is caught, more than it's taught. Our actions impact the lives of others, even more so than our words. We encourage or discourage others for the sake of the gospel by the way we live.
In verses 12-14 of this chapter, Paul wrote, I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Paul didn't just honor God and Christ by his preaching and willingness to suffer imprisonment for it, he impacted others for the sake of the gospel.
While Paul's life impacted others, those at Philippi impacted Paul's life. He writes, Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,… (verses 18-20).
C. We Should Matter to Us
In a world that is consumed with the mindset of, "Me, Mine, and Ours," you wouldn't think there'd be a need to emphasis why we should matter to ourselves, but there is.
We have been brainwashed by Satan to believe that our pain and hardships should matter more to us than we ourselves matter. For instance, if our pain or hardships become great enough, Satan tells us that suicide is an acceptable way out. This kind of thinking can only occur if our lives don't matter enough to us to warrant fighting our depression or pushing through our pain and problems.
Please nail this principle down, God doesn't make junk. We are valuable to Him, to others, and should be to ourselves.
Pastor and author Chuck Swindoll once said, I use to preach, "I'd rather burn out, than rust out. But now that I'm older and wiser, I realize that both are wrong. Either way you're out of the picture. Either way you're no good to God or others.
Our value to God and others is such, that we must also value our lives. We must take care of ourselves. We must get help when we can't deal with the pain or the depression on our own.
Now, don't take me wrong, we are not God, so we shouldn't expect people to worship and bow down to us. We are not all-knowing, so we shouldn't expect everybody to drop what they're doing and listen to us like on the old E.F. Hutton commercials. We are, however, valuable to the degree that Christ died for us. We are valuable because God created us, and left us in this world to bring about good to others, honor Him, and we do both by pointing others to Him.
It's our value to God and others that Paul is focused on when he says, Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents (verses27 & 28).
Paul wants to hear about how their lives are honoring God. Why? Because it encourages him. It motivates him. It comforts him.
The gospel of Christ does two things. It glorifies God and it is great news for men and women, therefore we ought to walk worthy of it.
II. Live Worthy of the Gospel
What does it mean to live or walk worthy of the gospel? It means to conduct yourselves in a manner that is honorable, and without reproach. It means controlling our emotions, and resisting temptations that would bring dishonor on God and harm to others. It means living in such a way that it impacts others for good and brings glory to God.
In Paul's letter to the Philippians, he gives them, and thus us, four actions or principles that enable us to live worthy of the gospel.
The first one is to reflect on the gospel benefits.
A. Reflect on the Gospel Benefits
Although Paul doesn't use the words benefits, he does say, Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ (verse 27).
The word "only" emphasizes that the main thing is the gospel. He wants our focus to be on the gospel, every aspect of the gospel.
If the gospel is not fresh to us? If the gospel is not real to us? If its benefits are not filling our hearts with thanksgiving and our mouths with praise, we probably will not live worthy of it.
The joys of heaven, the pains of hell, and the hope of eternal life must fill our minds and move our spirits. They must be more than theological terms and religious talk. Because of the gospel we need not fear death. Because of the gospel our sins are forgiven, our future is secure, and our hope is steadfast. Satan can't condemn us, sin can't defeat us, and the flesh can't control us.
We can rejoice in the gospel. We should rejoice in the gospel. We should stand firm in the gospel. After saying we should live worthy of the gospel, Paul tells the Christians at Philippi to stand firm in the gospel.
B. Stand Firm in the Gospel
Standing firm in the gospel means to stand with your life firmly planted on the truths of the gospel. It means standing firm in what the Scriptures teach. It means being faithful to Christ, to the Scriptures, and to His church.
Paul is not telling us to stand firm in our religious beliefs, for they may be all over the place. He is telling us to stand firm in the gospel. We are to stand firm in gospel that teaches us that we are lost because of our sins and no amount of goods works will save us, no amount of religious activities will save us, no amount of prayers and Bible reading will save us, because the gospel is clear, only Christ can save us. Only Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross can save us. Only by grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone, can save us.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (). He said in , "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture."
The perfect Son paid for our ugly sin by dying on a horrible cross. He paid our penalty. He took our place.
Standing firm means not being uncommitted or wishy-washy. Those who claim to be firm in the gospel, but non-committed to the church, don't even understand the gospel as a whole. The church is the body of Christ. The church is the only means Christ has left us to redeem the world. The church is the love of Christ, for He died for the church. states, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."
To not love the church, to not be committed to the church, to not be willing to sacrifice for the church, is the same as not loving Christ, not being committed to Christ, and not being willing to sacrifice for Christ.
We walk and live worthy of the Gospel when we stand firm on its truths and are committed to the church, the body of Christ. We also live worthy of the gospel when we live united in the gospel. Paul tells us to be united in the Gospel.
C. Be United in the Gospel
Look at verse twenty-seven again. It reads, "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel….
Paul expects to get out of prison and return to those in Philippi as soon as possible. When he comes he hopes to find them standing firm in the gospel and doing so with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
Once again Paul emphasizes the need for unity for partnership. We saw this a couple of weeks ago in . Paul said, I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
There is no place in God's kingdom for lone ranger Christians. We are in this together. We are a body that must learn to work and even play together. We are to rejoice together and weep together. Just as our human body must work as a whole to function correctly, so must the body of Christ. This means communicating with one another. It means seeking help or information from one another. It means offering help and information to one another. It means serving one another. It means taking on responsibilities, instead of expecting others to do it all or do your part. It means sharing the work load, the financial load, and the evangelistic load.
This is something we've got to do better at this year. It's why I'm asking for volunteers to pray publicly, begin our services with an energetic welcome, or pray with those who come to the altar.
We had several who expressed some interest in this the last Sunday we met, but we need more, and especially some men. We had zero men to express interest. Use your Orange card to let us know your willingness to take on more responsibility in the worship service.
We have an important project schedule for this year, the expanding of the foyer and installation of two restrooms in it and the redirecting of the entrance to the basement from the sanctuary to the foyer. We will need your help to do this. We will need some guys to step up to help with the work. We will need our finances to be able to afford it.
We must work together in the gospel and we must be courageous in the gospel.
D. Be Courageous in the Gospel
Paul said to the Philippians in verses 27-28, Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.
We should stand firm and united in the gospel and we should display no fear while doing so. As servants of an all-powerful, all-knowing ever-present God, we should not be afraid of our opponents.
We will have to face obstacles and enemies to the gospel, but we are to remember whose side we are on. We need to keep our focus on the One who has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me” ()?
We need to remember the words that God spoke to Joshua when he was about to lead the people of God into the promise land. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” ().
We can share the gospel. We can talk to people about Christ. We can invite others to church. We can influence others. We can talk in public. We can pray in public. We can pray with people at the altar. We can because God says we can, and God doesn't lie. We can live a life that is worthy of the gospel.
Conclusion: In conclusion, however, I had to ask are you? Are you living a life that is worthy of the gospel. If not, why not? Is it because you've never experience the gospel? Is it because the gospel and its benefits have grown distant and foreign to you? If so, a little talk with Jesus can made the gospel real and fresh to you. For this much I know, you matter to God and you matter to others. So why not let Christ use you to do good to others and bring glory to God.
Although you may not know whose life you have touched by the words you say, buy the offerings you've given, or by the work you've done for Christ, this much is certain, God takes notice and your work and giving is not in vain.
Listen how one life was touched by this congregation over thirty years ago. I received this through Facebook messenger the other day. This person and I didn't know one another, but she saw some of my Facebook posts and sent this to me. I asked and received permission from her to share it our congregation.