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The Sacrificial Life

Philippians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Please open your Bibles to .
Read Philippians 2:14-18.

The first point of our sermon is Children of God Don’t Complain.

Never before in history, has mankind been as prosperous as we are now.
Never before in history, has mankind been as prosperous as he is now.
We live in an age where people of past eras only dreamed of.
Food is plenty.
Transportation is easy.
Entertainment is nearby.
Healthcare is accessible.
And despite this great prosperity, it seems that dissatisfaction as only grown.
While we live in a world filled with luxuries, never before have people been more dissatisfied.
Not only are people not content, but they voice their discontent.
It seems that the easier life gets, the more we have to complain about.
And much of our complaining, is on the grand scale of it all, ridiculous.
Think about the progress of mankind, and then think about what we complain about.
Have you ever complained because the remote control was out of reach?
Nevermind, the incredible technology that exists to be able to beam information into that little picture screen in your living room.
But now I have to get up to change the channel?
That’s too much.
You ever gone to the store, only to find out they are out of your favorite snack.
Boy that gets me mad!
I have disposable income, and I want something tasty right now.
But they don’t have the right kind of tasty.
So I buy a different treat.
Have you ever complained because you wanted to drink water, but the bottle of water was warm?
You ever complained about the wifi being too slow?
How about clothing? You ever complained because you have nothing to wear and at the same time complained that your closet is too small for all of your clothes?
We just like to complain.
You ever been irritated because you had too many groceries to bring in.
Think about that.
You have so much, it’s going to take multiple trips to bring all that inside the house.
At least you aren’t complaining about having not enough groceries to bring into the house.
You ever complained because the air conditioner made it too cold.
We like to complain.
But here in Philippians, Paul begins with a charge to Christians, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing,”
It’s a bummer to be around someone who’s always complaining.
It’s a bummer to be around someone who is always negative.
They’re a glass is half empty kind of person.
You ever been around someone and you say something you’re excited about, and they come back with something terrible.
“I’m really excited to drive to San Diego today.”
“Good luck, hopefully you don’t die on the freeway, they’re dangerous you know.”
“Wow, that got dark real fast.”
Every idea you have is always shot down because it’s not good enough for them.
Sure it’s not fun to be around a negative Nancy.
But that’s not why Paul says this.
Paul’s not saying, “Let’s be optimists.”
Paul’s not saying, “Don’t complain, because you want people to like you.”
He says not to complain because we are children of God.
Look at verse 15, “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,”
Being a child of God means something.
Being a child of God means that we understand the sovereignty of God.
That he is in the heavens and He does all that He pleases.
That He can do whatever He wants.
Understanding the sovereignty of God means that we don’t have to worry, because we understand that God provides.
That’s why Jesus said, to not be anxious, to not worry.
We believe in a sovereign God, who is not only sovereign, but has kind enough to make great promises to us.
Think of all these great things that we believe about God in regards to us being His children.
We worship the God who:
Works for those who wait for Him -
Withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly -
Pursues us with goodness and mercy all our days -
Works all things together for the good of those who love him -
Did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, and so will surely give us all things with him -
Through whom we can do all things -
Supplies all our needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus -
Will help us, and strengthen us and hold us up by the right hand of his righteousness -
Will never leave us or forsake us, so that we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid; what can man do to me” -
Will complete in me the work he began -
In whose presence is fullness of joy and at whose right hand are pleasures forevermore. -
Has all authority in heaven and on earth … and who will be with us to the end of the age -
Disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness -
Knows the hairs of our head -
Now let me ask you, if those verses are true, then what are we complaining about?
There is a God, who not only is a sovereign deity, but who deeply cares for His people.
You see, then when we complain it says something about God.
When we complain, we sound like spoiled children.
Our complaints make it sound like we deserve something, something better.
We are saying all those things He has promised us is a lie.
When we complain, we are not living as children of God, but living as those who doubt God.
Instead of living faithfully, we are living faithlessly.
When we complain about life, we are actually saying we deserve better.
But in reality, what is it we deserve?
We don’t deserve beautiful sunsets, loving families, or even food on our plates.
The only thing we truly deserve is Hell.
, “For the wages of sin is death ...”
Yet, in God’s kindness, God gives us far better than we deserve.
He causes it to rain on the just and the unjust.
Even the unregenerate, the nonChristian, benefits from the kindness of God.
We live in a beautiful nation, with stable government, and abundant food.
And for the believer, God has done even more.
Christ ransomed us from our sins on the Cross.
Think of the immeasurable riches that God has given us.
And when we complain, we sound like spoiled kids.
We sound like the bad kids in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Acting as if we deserve it, and we deserve it now.
When we think of the big sins of the world, we rarely think of complaining as one of those sins.
When we think of bad sins we think of violent ones.
We don’t think of complaining as on par with those.
But if we think of some of the big sins in the Bible, it turns out that complaining is near most of them.
Adam sinned. He ate of the tree.
Remember what he did when God confronted him?
He complained.
“The woman whom you gave to be with me ...”
Adam complains, and he points his finger right at God.
God is about to free Israel out of Egypt. Moses confronts Pharaoh.
But instead of Moses rejoicing at the work of God.
What does Moses do?
- “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”
He complains. He points his finger right at God.
Israel had just been freed from Egypt by the strong arm of God.
They’ve passed through the waters of the Red Sea.
They’ve seen miracle upon miracle.
They are in the wilderness for three days, and what do they do?
They grumble.
They complain.
They want to go back to Egypt.
The same generation that was freed from Egypt, stands at the gates of the Promised Land.
They’ve been provided for by God.
Their shoes have not worn out.
God’s rained manna and quail on them daily.
Israel sends 12 spies into the Promised Land.
And what do they do?
They complain.
says, “And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!”
When we complain it says something about God and what we think about God.
All those instances of complaining, they weren’t just venting, they were complaining about God.
They were accusing Him of failing.
If there’s anyone in the Bible who could complain it was Job.
And at the end of the book, even he learned that his complaints were unfounded.
Finally, after all the heartache, suffering and pain that Job endured, he said these words to God.
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job learned to muzzle his mouth.
Because when he complained, he was accusing God of evil.
We learn a bit about the heart that God desires from His children, from Christians as well.
Paul says to do all things without grumbling or disputing.
Those aren’t two words for the same thing.
To grumble is an emotional response.
It’s something internally.
You see this in your children when you tell them to do something, and they go stomping off in a temper tantrum.
That’s a gut level reaction.
And to dispute something is a logical complaining.
It’s dwelling on a situation.
It’s having a conversation in your head, and convincing yourself that there is something that isn’t fair.
says that love keeps no record of wrong.
Well the disputing type of complaining has a long list of wrongs carefully recorded.
One is reactionary.
The other is more contemplative.
Paul opens our text with a command, do all things without grumbling or disputing.

The second point is Children of God Live By The Gospel

There are two groups of people being described in the text.
There are the children of God.
And there is the crooked and twisted generation around us.
I John would call them children of the devil.
And the children of God are to stand out.
They are to be different.
Jesus said that we are to be:
Salt of the earth.
A distinct flavoring.
A city on a hill.
Something that those around can gaze at and see from all angles.
The light of the world.
Like a lighthouse shining its beacon off a dark cliff, warning passing ships.
For that to be true, then we must be distinct.
At the end of verse 15 in our passage, Paul says that we are to shine as lights in the world.
My big question is how do we do that?
Some of you smart people, might say, “Luke, duh, it’s by not grumbling or complaining. It’s there in the text.”
I got you, I understand that, but how do we not grumble or complain?
Paul says that we are to shine as lights in the world, then moving on to verse 16 by holding fast to the word of life.
The Word of Life.
That is the Gospel.
Earlier in the chapter, we learned of the humility of Christ.
Verses 5-8 said, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the 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.”
The Gospel would be so different if Jesus wasn’t humble, but instead complained.
Never did Jesus grumble - An outburst saying “Why am I doing this?”
And never did Jesus dispute - “Are these people worth it?”
Jesus endured terrible suffering, but He never complained.
says, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”
There was tremendous heartache, there was genuine grieving, but never a complaint.
Instead, when His time of suffering approached He surrendered to the Father, “… the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, ...” - .
He didn’t grumble, instead He sought to glorify God.
The way to not grumble or complain is to direct our focus to the Gospel.
The reason why we like to grumble and complain is because we forget what we are and what we were.
We tend to think that we deserve the best.
And by holding fast to the Gospel it keeps us humble.
We must remember what we are and what we were.
We are reminded, that we aren’t saved because we were the best in the world.
In fact, according to Jesus, we were unable to save ourselves.
The Gospel keeps us humble, because it’s not something that we do, it’s something that we trust in.
It’s something that we depend upon.
It’s something external, it’s outside of us.
That then forces us to be humble, because we find ourselves incredibly weak.
says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
When we realize we are poor in spirit, spiritually bankrupt, then we understand why we need the Gospel.
Holding fast to the Gospel also causes us to live differently.
We learn that what we were doing was offensive to God, it was sin.
Upon receiving a new heart, we repent.
Not only do Christians stand out in the world because we don’t complain, but we stand out because we live differently.
In this point of shining as lights, there’s one thing that needs to be pointed out, Paul gives a fact regarding Christians.
He says, “among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life ...”
This isn’t a command.
He’s not saying, “You must shine as lights.”
He’s not requesting that you shine as lights.
It’s an indicative, that means it’s a fact, it’s happening.
In essence, if you are a Christian, you shine as lights in the world.
It’s what you do.
If I were to describe you for some of you I’d say:
You have dark hair.
You have light hair.
You have no hair.
It’s a fact, it’s just what you are.
And when it comes to Christians, you shine as lights in the world, it’s what you are, it’s a fact.
There’s many people who think they’re Christians, but they’re not shining.
It’s as if the bulb has burnt out, or the light switch is off.
That shows us a problem.
If Jesus is Lord of your life, if you have been born again … then as Paul says, you shine.
And this is a real simple test of salvation.
Are you holding to the Gospel?
Do you believe?
And are you shining?
If you can’t answer yes to both those questions, then we’ve got a problem.
And everything you think you think you are … you’re not.
I want each of you to shine as lights in the world.
Paul is in prison.
He’s chained to two Roman guards.
And it’s so the Gospel would go out.
He’s unsure if he will make out of this situation alive.
But it’s all worth it, if people are in Christ.
What Paul is looking forward to is knowing that those he ministered to, find themselves in Christ on the final day.
He wants to make sure that those who call themselves Christians, are really Christians.

The final point is Children of God Rejoice.

Paul opens our passage by giving a command, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”
And if anyone could complain, it’d be Paul.
He’s in prison.
He’s under house arrest.
He has no privacy.
He has a Roman guard chained to him.
He’s not sure if he’s going to live or not.
But he doesn’t complain.
In fact, he views his life as a sacrificial offering.
He sees his life as a gift to God.
So if he dies, it’s to God’s glory.
Rather then complaining about his situation, he finishes verse 17 by saying, “I am glad and rejoice with you all.”
That’s the opposite of complaining.
He’s trusting in the sovereign plan of God.
In , as he opens this letter, telling the Philippians that he’s okay, he comforts them by saying, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,”
He rejoices.
Paul doesn’t want to be alone in his rejoicing.
Verse 18 says, “Likewise, you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
He opens the passage with a command, do not grumble.
And then in verse 18, he closes with a command, “Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”
Look at the bookends of this passage
Don’t grumble.
Do rejoice.
There are two groups of people in the world.
The children of God.
And the children of the devil, the unconverted.
And if you are a child of God, then you are:
Not to grumble.
To shine as lights.
And now to rejoice.
Being a child of God is to have a life of worship and praise to God.
This is the opposite of complaining.
It’s really hard to grumble against God, when you are trusting in Him, and having faith in His sovereign plan.
Rejoicing is the logical consequence to trusting in God.
Notice again the conditions surrounding Paul’s rejoicing.
He’s not in an ideal situation.
And yet He rejoices.
I Peter was a letter written to the persecuted church.
Nero had accused the Christians of setting Rome on fire, and in retaliation, he was killing Christians.
They were crucified.
They were burned.
They were tortured.
They were fed to lions.
In he gives some instructions to the Christians in how they were to respond to those hardships.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed."
That’s the same message as Paul here, rejoice!
But as long as we think we deserve better, or think too highly of ourselves, this attitude will never ours.
We will never rejoice.
Would you categorize your life as a rejoicing life?
Why not?
It might be because your thoughts of God … are too small.
You doubt.
Maybe you think His plan is flawed.
And as long as you are fighting with God, you’re never going to give praise to God.

It seems as if we’ve come full circle.
Don’t grumble.
Do rejoice.
How do we do this?
By holding fast to the Gospel.
Remember what you were, and who saved you.
And if you have never done this … then do so today.
May today be the day of salvation.
May the Lord transform your hard, critical heart, and give you a new heart, defined by rejoicing in the lamb that was slain.
And for the Christians, don’t grumble.
I know it can be fun, but don’t.
Instead rejoice.
You’ve started the day well, you’ve gathered with the saints, and celebrated Christ.
And as you leave, let the rejoicing continue.
And as we go to our homes and neighborhoods then to our jobs, shine as lights in this world.
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