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Appeal to Serve-Phil. 2_1-11

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Appeal to Serve

Philippians 2:1-11


John Kenneth Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Gloria Wilson, his family’s housekeeper: It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House. “Get me Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson.”

“He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him.” “Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him.”

“No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you. When I called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. “Tell that woman I want her here in the White House.”

·         Who do we serve?

·         I would hope that each and everyone of us would say without hesitation, “God”

·         But if I an truly honest with myself there is more than one occasion where I serve another master.

·         More times than not I really serve my own interests.

·         In my home I would rather do what I want to do than serve my family.

·         I would rather set my own agenda at my job than follow my boss.

·         In the community I would rather take time for myself than to try to introduce them to Christ.

·         In the church I sometimes desire to be served rather than be served.

·         This is reality.

·         The problem is that I have a relationship with Jesus Christ and as such I have pledged myself to serve him alone.

·         I cannot have two masters but only one.

·         This world does not help.

·         At every turn in interactions with people and media I see over and over again the pull towards this ideology that says I should do it all for myself.

·         According to this world I have the right to do what I want and have what I want even if I have made a prior commitment to my wife or children.

·         I can go into all kinds of debt because whatever I want I deserve it.

·         I only have to make a commitment to something as long as I get something from it.

·         In every way this goes against what Christ showed us.

·         He is the best example of what our church is to be like.

·         In his life Jesus showed us that the church was designed to serve.

·         Phil. 2:1-11.

Paul’s Appeal as a Servant (2:1-2)

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, 2:2 complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose.

·         Paul begins his appeal to the church by stating four things that come from the work of Christ.

·         He is not trying to indicate that these things are conditional.

·         They should be understood more accurately in translation as saying, “Since there is…”.

·         All four clauses of verse 1 make reference to atoning act Jesus made on the cross.

·         To receive encouragement from Christ or in Christ has the idea that through his sacrifice we no longer are down cast without hope.

·         He has freed us from the bonds of sin and despair and has given us new life.

·         Paul is reminding his audience of the change that took place in their lives when the gospel was preached to them.

·         They had a changed outlook and perspective that made life better.

·         The second clause speaks of Christ’s comfort that he provides for us by his love.

·         No greater form of love could be expressed then when he was willing to die for our sins.

·         He took upon himself the wrath of God made for us and bore our punishment.

·         His love provides safety for us.

·         His love provides security for us.

·         The work of Christ also provides for us a relationship that previously was not universal to all who had faith in God.

·         The Spirit was not poured out on all believers.

·         Christ began this presence of permanence and continued it with the work of the Holy Spirit.

·         Fellowship seems easy to understand but I fear we do not grasp the fullness of what is being said here.

·         Fellowship: close relationship involving mutual interests-participation and sharing.

·         Fellowship in the Spirit is participation and sharing in relationship the same mind.

·         Jesus sent the Spirit to those who would believe so they could have the involvement of God present in our every moment.

·         God was no longer in dwelt by a few or present in the sanctuary as we see in the O.T.-he is now available to all whom would believe.

·         Fourth clause: Affection or mercy refers again to the work of Christ through the gospel

·         The word translated affection refers to the inward parts of the body-bowels or heart.

·         The center of emotion and feelings.

·         So when it is translated affection it refers to Christ’s deep seated love for us that sent him to the cross.

·         This love was so great that he could see past our sin and depravity and find mercy for us.

·         By our sin nature we all deserve the penalty of death but because of his affection that produced mercy he died for us.

·         He saw our misfortune and chose to relieve us from it.

·         Paul has described what has happened in the lives of those who follow Jesus-they have been encouraged, comforted, been in fellowship with the Spirit, loved and had mercy poured upon them

·         Because of this work that come in the preaching of the Gospel he says finish my work by bringing your relationship with Christ into your relationship with each other.

·         He is stating in four different ways the same thought-be unified.

·         Have the same thinking, love one another, be unified in your emotions or feelings and have the same goals.

·         We may wonder how this is too take place?

·         He has given the idea through the work of Christ but will give further clarification in the following verses.

For the sake of each of us he laid down his life—worth no less than the universe. He demands of us in return our lives for the sake of each other. - St. Clement of Alexandria

Paul’s Call to Service (2:3-5)

2:3 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. 2:4 Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. 2:5 You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,

·         Remember that Paul is calling the church to think with the same mindset of that of Christ.

·         What advantage would there have been in Christ coming to earth- What would he have gained personally?

·         In our world there is little room for the concept that someone would give up many things, move a great distance and change their lifestyle without a reason that would be beneficial to them.

·         Jesus does exactly that-there was nothing in it for him.

·         But what about doing something sacrificial so that there would be some accolade or praise?

·         People are often drawn to give vast sums of money or go to places at great personal cost if only for the reason that it will give them some recognition.

·         Jesus does not do that-there was no desire for vanity.

·         Selfish ambition does not display the mind of Christ nor does it help the church.

·         Christians who are selfish in their conduct do not advance the Kingdom of God.

·         Paul encourages his audience to treat one another as more important than themselves

·         The problem is that whether we admit it or not we have such a high opinion of ourselves that we find it quite difficult to place others before ourselves.

·         When we are unwilling to give up our wants and desires for the sake of others we are basically communicating the love we have for ourselves.

·         We are provided with the answer to the problem of selfishness.

·         We are given the solution-living with the same attitude and behavior as Christ-humility.

·         Our motivation is Christ and his motivation was humility-a willingness to put others before ourselves.

·         Now Paul is not unrealistic- He understands that each of us have legitimate concerns for ourselves.

·         It is perfectly acceptable to have enough to put food on the table, clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads.

·         I even think that he would not care if we buy ourselves those things that are purely wants and not needs.

·         If you are unwilling to care for others because you will not make others a priority then you have lost the plot.

·         Christ for those people is not their example and model-the world is.

·         Further we are not to only think of others when they are good, pious, smart or attractive.

·         For Christ did not come for those that had it all together but for those who were in despair.

·         In case any of us do not understand the fullness of what Paul is telling us he puts it all in perspective.

·         He says that each of us should have the same attitude toward one another as Christ had to us.

·         The nuance here is an attitude that comes from careful thought- Christ knew exactly what he was doing and who he was doing it for.

·         He understood our need, our failures, our sin, and our selfishness-he knew our desire to return to sin and to hurt one another and yet he choose to have a mindset that reconciled us to God.

Angus was a Scottish prisoner in one of the camps filled with Americans, Australians, and Britons who had helped build the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai. The camp had become an ugly situation. A dog-eat-dog mentality had set in. Allies would literally steal from each other and cheat each other; The law of the jungle prevailed...until the news of Angus McGillivray’s death spread throughout the camp. Rumors spread in the wake of his death. No one could believe big Angus had succumbed. Actually, it wasn’t the fact of his death that shocked the men, but the reason he died. The Argylls (Scottish soldiers) took their buddy system very seriously. Their buddy was called their “mucker,” and these Argylls believed that is was literally up to each of them to make sure their “mucker” survived. Angus’s mucker, though, was dying, and everyone had given up on him but Angus.  Someone had stolen his mucker’s blanket. So Angus gave him his own, telling his mucker that he had “just come across an extra one.” Likewise, every mealtime, Angus would get his rations and take them to his friend, stand over him and force him to eat them, again stating that he was able to get “extra food.” As Angus’s mucker began to recover, Angus collapsed, slumped over, and died. The doctors discovered that he had died of starvation complicated by exhaustion. He had given everything he had—even his very life. As word circulated of the reason for Angus McGillivray’s death, the feel of the camp began to change. Suddenly, men began to focus on their friends, and humanity of living beyond survival, of giving oneself away. They began to pool their talents—one was a violin maker, another an orchestra leader, another a cabinet maker, another a professor. Soon the camp had an orchestra full of homemade instruments and a church called the “Church Without Walls” that was so powerful, so compelling, that even the Japanese guards attended. The men began a university, a hospital, and a library system. The place was transformed; all because one man named Angus gave all he had for his friend. For many of those men this turnaround meant survival.

Paul’s Example of Service (2:6-11)

2:6 who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped,

2:7 but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature.  2:8 He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross! 2:9 As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow– in heaven and on earth and under the earth –2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

·         These verses are an early Christian Hymn that honor Christ.

·         It is a hymn not in the way we think of it but more as a creed or confession.

·         Before we go any further it needs to be said that this is an extremely complicated set of verses that have been argued over in theological settings for centuries.

·         We do not have adequate time to work through all of the issues- this will be more of an overview for the sake of what Paul is trying to communicate.

·         He has told us we need to be like Christ and now he describes it.

·         He tells us that Jesus before he came to earth existed as God-the word “form” was not meant to communicate that Christ was like God or appeared like God.

·         It can be seen as being in the shape of God in contrast to being in the shape of a human being for before the incarnation he only existed in the shape of God as spirit.

·         Some have seen this as a reason to argue that Christ was not God but a created being-the word equality makes it clear that Jesus was in all ways the same as the father.

·         Another confusing word that has baffled scholars is the proper meaning of the word “grasped”

·         Two legitimate interpretations: It refers to Christ not using his divinity in his purpose on this earth to his advantage-not using his power and other attributes to avoid or make life easier for himself  so we may read it as “…used for his personal use.”

·         The other emphasizes that Christ did not try to hold on to his high position (kingship) but decided to surrender it for the sake of humanity.

·          Either interpretation seems to have some validity.  Both do emphasize that Jesus had full deity but humbled himself in order to serve humanity. Both make it clear that he became a servant.

·         One that he retained his full power and limited the use of it, the other that he gave up his kingship (but not his deity) for a short time.

·         The next problem is the word “emptied”

·         Rather than translated ‘emptied’ because it makes it seem like he gave up or dismissed his deity it might be better understood as “poured out”. He poured out service for the sake of mankind.

·         The emphasis should not be on Christ giving up something but rather that he gave something to others.

·         He did not give up his deity but rather added humanity to his person.

·         His deity was restricted but not in his essence but in its actions and it manifested itself in that he no longer was in the appearance as God-royalty but was just a common human being and shared in all the appearance and nature of humanity.

·         This humility was for a very specific point-to serve the needs of humanity.

·         The need of humanity was to have a relationship with God but this relationship was impossible to be reconciled permanently without a sacrifice to atone for God’s wrath in a way that the sacrifice of an animal could never do.

·         A substitution must take place but not of a lesser animal but of a human.  And no mere human would do but one that was above all others as God.

·         He showed his servant position by taking upon himself death, the humiliating death of crucifixion.

·         He shows each of us the extent to which service must take.  We may claim that we have served enough, sacrificed enough and thought of others enough but until we are willing to die for others we cannot claim to be as servant on equal with Christ. 

·         I do not believe that he is asking us to literally die for others-his point is that our service must increase and we have Jesus as our example of ultimate service.

·         Selfishness has no place in the community of faith.  And this does not disqualify us from caring for ourselves (he makes that clear) but we often care for ourselves far too much.

·         Paul then brings to bear a concept that can be found throughout the entire Bible

·         The greatest became last and last became greatest in that God then accepted this sacrifice for humanity made in the name of Jesus the name to be honored and glorified.  His name was to be worshiped in all creation. 

·         In this ultimate act of service, Jesus the name for the earthly man became intertwined for eternity with his name as LORD.  At the moment of the cross he was more than Jesus but Christ and his name was too be lifted up.

·         Jesus the man became Jesus the LORD.  This does not mean that a human became God but that the incarnation-human nature in some cosmic feat that is difficult to understand was exalted in this one person and no other to LORD.

·         It in one sense was a demonstration to this world that this God-Man was more than what he appeared but was LORD in the all the fullness of his deity and he was the means by which humanity could approach God the Father.

·         It is at this point that all the Scriptures that spoke of a Christ and deliverance become associated with Jesus.

·         So when God has proclaimed him as LORD, he shares with him the name of YHWH.

·         When people confess Jesus as LORD they are declaring God as LORD and the Father is glorified.

·         Every person through his service was designed to confess his name, give him the praise and give him the glory.

·         In taking upon ourselves the attitude of Christ we bring unity to the church by serving each other sacrificially.

·         We bring his name to the forefront in our interactions with unbelievers.

·         In being faithful servants of Christ we may lower ourselves, giving up comforts and desires but in the end we gain the greatest reward-fellowship with Christ, an eternal heavenly home and a place of honor at the right hand of the father with Jesus.

Marion Mill was born in a fairy tale royal palace in Hungary. Her first spoon was solid gold. They sent her to school in Vienna where she fell in love with a young medical student named Otto.  Otto and Marion married and went to live in Hollywood, CA. There, as they “set up house,” he began to dabble in movies. He became so interested in movies that he went on to become the famed movie director Otto Preminger. But Otto’s princess could not handle the fast life of Hollywood. She tried to take her own life three times, unsuccessfully, and finally moved back to Vienna.  There at a party she met Albert Schweitzer, the well-known medical doctor, musician, philosopher, theologian and missionary. She was so fascinated by Schweitzer,that she asked him if she could talk to him alone. For almost six months, every week, she met with him. At the end of that time he was going to go back to Africa, and she begged him to let her go with him. Schweitzer surprised everyone by agreeing. Marion, the young princess, who was born in a palace went to a little village in Lambarene, Africa, and spent the rest of her life emptying bed pans and tearing up sheets to make bandages for putrid sores on the poverty-stricken nationals.  She wrote in her autobiography: “Albert Schweitzer says there are two kinds of people. There are the helpers, and the non-helpers. I thank God He allowed me to become a helper, and in helping, I found everything.”

·         There is an interesting parallel between this passage and John 13:3-17 when Jesus washed his disciples feet.

·         John 13:4-Phil. 2:7: Jesus rose from the table taking off his outer garment-he emptied himself.

·         John 13:5-Phil. 2:7: Jesus takes a towel and a basin of water and begins to wash his disciples feet as a slave would do-taking on the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of human beings…humbled himself.

·         John 13:12-Phil. 2:9: Jesus again put on his outer garment-God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name which is above every name.

·         John 13:13-Phil. 2:11: Jesus says “you address me as teach and Lord and rightly so, for that is what I am-…that every tongue might openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

·         In the passage in John we understand clearly what Jesus was trying to show us about serving others. Gerald Hawthorne writes:

If the incident from the life of Jesus, where Jesus puts himself in the place of the slave and washes his disciples’ feet  played any part in shaping this hymn, if the context in which the hymn is inserted presents a call to serve one another, then δουλος emphasizes the fact that in the incarnation Christ entered the stream of human life as a slave, that is, as a person without advantage, with no rights or privileges of his own for the express purpose of placing himself completely at the service of all mankind. There is no reason to ask, “to whom was Christ a slave—to God or to people?” For in serving people he was serving God, and in taking the role of slave toward others, he was acting in obedience to the will of God. “The incarnation is both humiliation and mission”


·         The work of Jesus Christ on the cross brings us new life-it encourages us, gives us comfort in his act of love, provides for us the indwelling Holy Spirit, it shows Christ’s affection and mercy for us.

·         From this we should have the same agenda and purpose which is to think of others more than ourselves-put aside selfishness and live out Christ’s example.

·         For although the Son was in his Kingdom, ruling with the Father as fully God he put aside his royalty and took on humanity.

·         He did not give up being God but he did not use his deity for his own comfort but poured it out for the redemption of humanity.

·         So great was his servitude that he served by dying in our place on the humiliating cross.

·         From this God lifted Jesus up.

·         The incarnational God-Man was taken from humility to exaltation so that the name “Jesus” would from that moment on be LORD.

·         The salvation of this world would come through this God-man Jesus Christ and all those who would believe in him would give God the glory.

·         So for each one of us there is high calling.

·         We as the church have the role of glorifying God through our service.

·         We are to take our appreciation for the redemption that Christ provides and put aside selfishness and serve one another.

·         Our agenda needs to be God’s agenda, our actions, time and resources need to be used to serve God through serving each other.

·         When we do this God will reward us-we will see the benefit of giving of ourselves, we will grow in our relationship with him, we will be lifted up in the resurrection to rule with Christ.

·         So today how can you put off selfishness?

·         How can you serve others for the sake of Christ?

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