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Gospel Community: Sharing Christian Affection

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:35
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‎Christians are called to unite in sacrificial love for one another.

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GOSPEL COMMUNITY: SHARING CHRISTIAN AFFECTION; Philippians 2:19-30; MHAFB, 27 Oct 19 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------Series: Philippians / Topics: Community; Church: Fellowship and Unity; Affection; Encouragement; Edification Before Service: Pray with leaders! Opening Verse: Psalm 133 Songs for Worship: Make Us One, Fall Afresh On Us, Bind Us Together ----------------------------------------------------------------------------SLIDE-Transition to Sermon, Ps. 119:105 Introduction 1. Attention: a. Do any of you have a Christians that you really admire? i. Maybe a previous pastor or chaplain... ii. A loving family member... iii. A friend that brought you to the Lord... iv. Maybe even a Christian from history that you have studied or a modern Christian that you listen to online... b. In the days of Paul with the early church if you asked this question, a handful of names that we’ve heard in the NT would probably come up i. Among them, especially for the Philippian church, you’d likely hear of Timothy & Epaphroditus ii. Two men who we will hear about today as Paul talks about… iii. SLIDE-Title: Gospel Community: Sharing Christian Affection (2:19-30) 2. Big Picture: a. Before we get there, let’s remember what we’ve been going through so far... i. Philippians 1:1-11, Gospel Growth: Partners in Spiritual Maturity 1. Christians should lovingly pursue Christian maturity in one another ii. Philippians 1:12-30, Gospel Worthy: A Life that Magnifies Christ (1:12-30) 1. We live worthy of the Gospel when our greatest joy is in Christ & His glory iii. Philippians 2:1-18, Gospel Character: Developing Christ-Like Community (2:1-18) 1. Because of Jesus, Christians should be humbly united in Christ-like Community b. Now today, as we get into Philippians 2:19-30, we’ll see a natural outworking, an expansion of sorts, from last week. i. While following Jesus Paul has seen, pursued, & lived in Christ-like community ii. He now uses these two Cristians, Timothy & Epaphroditus, to demonstrate what this looks like & what it creates. c. SLIDE-Thesis: As we go through this, I hope that you will see that... i. Christians are called to unite in sacrificial love for one another 3. Passage: a. Context: To highlight a demonstration of such Christian unity & sacrificial affection, Paul referenced these two strong Christians i. Timothy originally met Paul in Lystra (Acts 16:1-3) during Paul’s second mission trip 1. After coming to faith, Timothy was discipled & mentored by Paul; & together they worked to magnify Christ 2. In various parts of Scripture Paul calls Timothy his “Fellow worker” (Rom 16:21; 1 Thess 3:2), “Brother” (2 Cor 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Thess 3:2), “Bond-servant” (Phil 1:1), “Beloved and faithful child in the Lord” (1 Cor 4:17), “Son” (1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2), & Coequal in the Lord’s work (1 Cor 16:10; 1 Thess 3:2) 3. Along with Philippians, Timothy was present with Paul when he wrote 2 Corinthians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians & Philemon (see v1 of each) ii. Epaphroditus, on the other hand, is not as well known. 1. At the writing of Philippians Paul was in prison a. Unable to travel on his own & also reliant on the kindness of others for his provision and encouragement through visitation. b. The church of Philippi chose to send Paul resources & a ministering friend to care for him in this time 2. Epaphroditus was the minister sent, bringing the Philippian gift (Philippians 4:18) a. But upon arriving with Paul was, Epaphroditus was struck with a near-fatal illness b. Had this kept him from blessing & serving Paul as the Philippians church had hoped? i. In today’s reading you’ll see Paul’s response to this concern, ii. A response that was delivered by the now-recovered Epaphroditus. b. Verses-5 Slides: So, without further adieu, let’s begin to read through Philippians 2:19-30… i. To see two Christians who demonstrated the unity & sacrificial affection that we are called to— Philippians 2:19–30 CSB 19 Now I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon so that I too may be encouraged by news about you. 20 For I have no one else like-minded who will genuinely care about your interests; 21 all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know his proven character, because he has served with me in the gospel ministry like a son with a father. 23 Therefore, I hope to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 I am confident in the Lord that I myself will also come soon. 25 But I considered it necessary to send you Epaphroditus—my brother, coworker, and fellow soldier, as well as your messenger and minister to my need— 26 since he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you heard that he was sick. 27 Indeed, he was so sick that he nearly died. However, God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 For this reason, I am very eager to send him so that you may rejoice again when you see him and I may be less anxious. 29 Therefore, welcome him in the Lord with great joy and hold people like him in honor, 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up what was lacking in your ministry to me. 4. Transition: May the Lord bless the reading of His Word. a. And help us to see how we are "called to unite in sacrificial love for one another” b. And in this pursuit, I invite you first to consider how we are called to... Main Point 1: Christian Unity 1. Explain & Expand: This is a theme continued from last week’s verses & seen in a few key ways today; consider how today’s verses highlight that Christians are united… a. MP1: Around the globe & in diversity: i. This is really just a quick note, but recognize the point of origin & differences between these three men: 1. Paul, an older pure Jew from Tarsus (SE Turkey), with Roman citizenship 2. Timothy, a younger half Greek & half Jew from Lystra (S-Central Turkey) 3. Epaphroditus, a Greek man presumably from Philippi (NE Greece) ii. Within the AF context we experience similar diversity 1. And as Christians, all the more, do w recognize that the unity God calls us to extends beyond any geographic or political boundary iii. Even when we are physically separate, as Paul was from the Philippians, we are still united in Christ b. MP1: With like-minds: While Paul first strongly introduced this concept in 2:2, he revisits it in v20 as a reference to his relationship with Timothy i. He & Timothy are of a like-soul, kindred spirits, or the same attitudes ii. As we follow the instruction of Jesus & the Apostles to become like Him (John 13:13-17, 14:15; 1 Cor 11:1; Eph 5:1-2; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6)— 1. As the Holy Spirit transforms us by renewing our minds (Rom 12:2)— 2. As we put on the new self which is created after the likeness of God (Eph 4:22-24)— 3. As God works out His plan to conform us to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29)— 4. While still maintaining a rich & beautiful diversity— iii. MP1: We come to each share the mind of Christ! 1. And thus find amazing unity together! iv. Moving forward, we also see that we are united… c. MP1: As Family: i. Highlighting the discipling mentorship relationship that Paul has with Timothy, he refers to Him as “a son” (v22) ii. Then when considering the heart & service of Epaphroditus, he refers to him as “my brother” (v25) iii. Our dysfunctional families can sometimes blind us from seeing the great beauty of true Christian family 1. Instead of letting Jesus teach us what true Christian family is like, 2. We let our broken families wrongly teach us what Christian family is like— 3. Such things should not be! iv. Read through God’s Word, come to understand the true beauty & unity of what Christian family looks like-1. MP1: A family characterized by the affection that we will get to shortly! 2. A family characterized by ridiculous unity in the face of such great diversity 3. A family characterized by humility, forgiveness, & sacrificial service v. But let’s not belabor this—we also see that Christians are united… d. MP1: As Co-Workers: Paul highlights this in v25 through how he describes Epaphroditus i. It is possible that the Philippians church felt ashamed or at least greatly disappointed that the man they sent to minister to Paul was instead struck by such a dangerous illness that he may have actually been a burden to Paul! 1. But Paul uses very admirable words to describe Epaphroditus, a. Helping the Philippians Christians realize that their gift was not in vain-b. Far from a burden, even through his illness Epaphroditus contributed greatly to God’s work! ii. He labored along with Paul 1. Together they strived, they toiled, they worked hard for the sake of the Gospel, to magnify Christ! 2. Or, as Paul shared in vv29-30, “...welcome him in the Lord with great joy and hold people like him in honor, because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up what was lacking...” iii. MP1: And so let us be those who are laboring together for Christ! 1. Paul highlights a similar type of unity with Timothy in v22 when he shares that “he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel” 2. Now, beyond that, we also see that Christians are to be united… e. MP1: As Soldiers: This is another term Paul used in v25 to highlight’s Epaphroditus’ work i. Since Roman soldiers were so well known throughout the world of early Christianity, 1. Paul commonly used soldier imagery to help people understand their unity & purpose as Christians ii. Having been rescued from the dominion of darkness (Col 1:13) where Satan & sin rule our lives-1. MP1: We have entered a spiritual battle (Eph 6:10-20) 2. As Paul says in Eph 6:11-13, Ephesians 6:11–13 CSB 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. 13 For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. iii. Rather than soldiers, we are Airmen—united in the USAF in various struggles against flesh & blood 1. As such this helps us understand some of the ways in which we should be united as Christian soldiers-2. We have shared mission, vision, & goals 3. We make sacrifices to work together with great loyalty & commitment to accomplish these very things 4. As Christians, we are united as soldiers. iv. Finally, let us consider how we are united… f. MP1: In care for each other: Paul was in need—there is no way around that i. Later in Philippians 4:10 Paul highlights how the Philippians church, lacked the opportunity to show their care for Paul 1. But in v30 Paul highlights how Epaphroditus risked his life “to make up what was lacking in your ministry to me” ii. Paul undoubtedly had many needs during his time of imprisonment (mental, emotional, physical, social, spiritual, etc.) 1. He was in need of substantial care 2. Both Timothy (v22) & Epaphroditus (v25) ministered to Paul’s needs iii. And such care will unite us as Christians 1. through our willingness to give it & receive it iv. And this care, while it unites us, also demonstrates a key element of our next main point 2. Transition: So let us now consider how we are called to... Main Point 2a: Christian Love 1. Explain: a. Last week we highlighted the Christ-like humility that should be paramount in Christian life, i. This week we’re looking more at the Chris-like love that was demonstrated between Paul, the Philippians, Timothy, & Epaphroditus ii. While this love is manifested in many ways, let’s see what Paul highlights in this passage… b. Christian love includes… c. MP2b: Shared Encouragement: (v19) To be encouraged is the idea to have an increase of both courage and cheer in your life i. One of the primary reasons Paul wrote this letter was to encourage the church, a fact that comes out in many ways, 1. Not the least of which is his sending Epaphroditus back to them (vv25-30)— ii. And in vv16-19 Paul highlights how he wants to be encouraged by the Philippians (news of them) iii. As with each element of Christian love—encouragement is to be mutually shared 1. We should give it & be willing to receive it iv. And such encouragement should lead each other to 1. Strength in hard times and 2. A general courage & cheer that leads maturity & growth v. Secondly, Christian love includes… d. MP2c: Genuine Care: (v20) True concern about another that leads you to (if possible) attend to them i. What shows you that genuine care exists between Paul, Philippians, Timothy, & Epaphroditus? 1. The Philippians sent Epaphroditus as a messenger (apostle) & minister to Paul’s need (v25) 2. Paul sent him back out so that the Philippians would have less stress (vv26, 28) 3. Timothy is known (v20) as one "who will genuinely care about your interests” ii. Evidence abounds that they truly were concerned for the well-being of one another! iii. And this third element of Christian love naturally flows from this… 1. Thirdly, Christian love includes… e. MP2d: Sacrificial Selflessness: (vv21-22, 30) Quite counter to our normal human instinct, sacrificial selflessness means that we deny our self-interest & put others first i. Our normal sinful way of working is to protect ourselves, 1. Get what we need and want first, 2. And then, if time & resources permit, help others ii. Now, compare that again with the example of Timothy... 1. He lives out Paul’s earlier command in vv3-4, “in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” 2. Following the example of Jesus, a. He choose to rightly demonstrate sacrificial selflessness of Christian love 3. See the notes from last week’s sermon to really work this out more. iii. Epaphroditus similarly lived out such sacrificial selflessness 1. As Paul says in v30, “he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up what was lacking in your ministry to me.” iv. This is a very challenging element of Christian love, 1. But it is one that powerfully distinguishes it from normal human love. v. Fourthly, Christian love includes… f. MP2e & f: Growing Fellowship: (vv23-24) An increase of closeness and kindness w/in our community i. Christian fellowship is the closeness that we develop which is characterized by a pursuit of kindness to one another ii. While the word is not used in today’s verses (see v2:1, “koinonia of the Spirit”), the concept clearly is! iii. You see a closeness in which all four parties are interested in the lives of each other 1. They want to share these, getting real with the messiness & anxieties of life iv. Paul even works to help ensure any possible ill-will toward Epaphroditus returning is smoothed over (v29) v. Which is actually a lead-in into our fifth idea here— 1. Christian love includes… g. MP2g: Honoring one another: (vv25-26, 29-30) Holding each other in high regard i. Paul speaks well of Timothy, 1. Helping the Philippians understand their need to honor him when he arrives ii. Similarly for Epaphroditus, 1. Paul goes out of his way to ensure the church doesn’t think poorly of him, 2. Instructing them to “welcome him in the Lord with great joy and hold people like him in honor” (v29) iii. Such generosity in attitude & speech should define us as Christians 1. It is not something to only provide to some elite class of Christians, but something that is to be shared with all 2. If we truly love one another, a. Let us be those that speak well of each other & build one another up b. Let us do so even when the person of discussion is not present! iv. Finally for today’s passage, Christian love includes… h. MP2h: Shared Joy: (vv28-29) Great pleasure & happiness i. Again note this consistent theme throughout this letter. ii. Here it is highlighted as a response to the Philippians receiving back their friend who was near death 1. Instead of worry & anxiousness for his well-being— 2. They are to rejoice with his return & welcome him with great (NASB: all) joy iii. Relate this back to vv17-18 & remember how Paul just expressed that he wanted to have he and the Philippian Christians share their gladness & joy w/one another iv. If we truly love one another, 1. It makes sense that we should desire that despite the hardships we face in life, 2. We should want each other to have great pleasure & happiness— a. The deep heart joy that only God can give! 2. Transition: And so may it be with us! a. May we understand and share with one another the Christian love that includes shared encouragement, genuine care, sacrificial selflessness, growing fellowship, honoring one another, & shared joy b. Let’s wrap this up… Conclusion-1: Conclusion 1. Reiterate: Christians are called to unite in sacrificial love for one another a. We are to be a united people— i. No matter our diversity or location ii. Sharing like-minds as we share the mind of Christ iii. Becoming a godly family, co-workers, & soldier iv. United in our care for one another b. And such care naturally flows from our Christian love i. That which includes all of what we just looked at 2. Con-2: Apply: So, how should we respond? a. Con-3: Pursue Unity: Consider the unity that we have because of Jesus’s work in each of our lives (c.f. Romans 15:5-6) i. Realize that God designed us to be in the type of community that we see taught & demonstrated in this entire chapter ii. Earnestly seek to build that community by letting God transform your heart & mind to be more like Jesus iii. Be intentional about sharing life together as a spiritual family, co-workers for Christ, & spiritual soldiers 1. With the primary goal of magnifying Christ! b. Con-4: Practice Christian Love: i. While the songs, movies, & stories of our world demonstrate a very different picture of love-1. Today we’ve seen some key descriptions of what godly love truly looks like. a. It has shared encouragement, genuine concern, sacrificial selflessness, growing fellowship, honor, & shared joy w/in it 2. Check out 1 Cor 13 for Paul’s further reflection on key qualities of Christian love— a. It is patient, kind, etc… ii. Because of how counter-cultural Christian love is in our world… 1. Learning & living it takes much hard work! 2. But it is the key to satisfying & sustaining relationships through life iii. Practice this love— 1. It doesn’t come naturally & you will likely need to keep growing & improving with how you live it out! 2. But as you do, you will see remarkable changes happening in, through, & around you! iv. To help you in this end, I encourage you to revisit our notes from last main point— 1. Consider, which area do you need to improve most in? Where are you lacking? 2. Be in deliberate prayer about that this week 3. If we could get this Christian love thing down—so many problems in our lives would begin to disappear! v. And within this, I encourage you to especially… vi. Con-5: Learn Selflessness: In pursuit of this, I invite you again to revisit sermon notes from last week (found on Facebook) 1. Learn how to be humble as our Lord Jesus Christ was humble a. Paul well highlights in v21 that when we merely seek our own interests, we are not seeking the interests of Jesus Christ 2. Imagine what a difference it will make in our life and community when we live out His humbleness & care for others. 3. While selfishness is the cause of all war, hate, fighting, conflict, divisions— a. Destroying marriages, careers, churches, & lives— 4. Selflessness is a beautiful, inspiring, & rewarding way of life that will bring healing, restoration, & unity a. May we be such selfless people. b. Furthermore, w/in the understanding of Christian love, I encourage you to… vii. Con-6: Encourage One Another: Have compassion for those around you 1. Think about their needs & interests & prioritize that in your life 2. Who do you know right now that needs encouragement? a. What are you going to do about it? 3. From a letter, phone call, text, or secret service— a. There are many ways in which we can encourage those around us b. Be intentional about honoring God in this way. viii. And finally, as a side note related well to these verses— c. Con-7: Honor Sacrificial Servants: (c.f. 1 Cor. 16:18; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17-18) i. In Philippians 2:29–30 while speaking of Epaphroditus’ sacrificial service of Christ and His church, 1. Paul instructs us, “Therefore, welcome him in the Lord with great joy and hold people like him in honor.” (CSB) ii. Consider those Christians that God has used in your life— 1. Those who served God & poured into you sacrificially— 2. Perhaps it was an previous pastor or chaplain, 3. Maybe it was a family member or friend. iii. How could you honor them this week? 1. October is recognized as “Pastor Appreciation Month.” 2. Now would be an excellent time to send out a call, e-mail, letter, or Facebook post appreciating those who have sacrificially spiritually cared for you iv. Remember them with joy & show them great honor. 3. Appeal: a. Our God has done great and amazing things for us, i. Not the least of which has been to call us into this community of faith b. Within this we are “called to unite in sacrificial love for one another” i. May each of us make this an ever-growing goal in our own lives. 4. Conclude: Pray with me... a. You have made us, O God, for deep, satisfying relationships because you are a relational God. b. Help us to live humbly & lovingly within this community c. Teach us how to build & "keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:3, CSB) d. Forgive us for being, at times, self-centered, looking out for only myself. e. Enable us now to think of others first and to show Your love toward them. f. In Your loving Name we pray. Amen.
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