This morning we continue our study of Philippians. Two weeks ago we studied Philippians 1:1-10. Here we discovered a man who had every reason not to be happy, but yet he was filled with joy. Over 18 times in this short four chapter book Paul talks about rejoicing or joy.
We observed that Paul has a life of joy because he measured himself by his relationship with Jesus, not by his relationship to his churches, or his relationship to other men, but by his relationship with Jesus. He said it so simply, Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ.
Second, we discovered Paul's path to joy was a path of prayer. He was a man who breathed prayer. In fact as we exist on air, Paul survived on prayer.
Third, we found out Paul's practice was to focus on others.
Last week we discovered Paul was a man with a positive attitude.
FIRST, PAUL KEPT A POSITIVE ATTITUDE IN HIS CURRENT SITUATION.
SECOND, PAUL KEPT A POSITIVE ATTITUDE CONCERNING HIS CALLING.
THIRD, PAUL PROJECTED A POSITIVE IMAGE TO OTHERS.
This morning we are going to look at why Paul had a positive attitude.
An attitude, like a diamond, has many facets. This week I learned that the diamond's value was based on how well the facets are cut. There is a table facet, a star facet, a bezel facet, a girdle facet, and others. Each one is cut to reflect the light. As light enters into the stone each of the cuts on the diamond reflect that light to the other cuts or facets. As this lights bounces around within the diamond it produces the beauty and color that we see.
The same is true of us, however the light within us is not other than Christ Himself. As Christ is reflected through the facets of our lives we add beauty and color to our dark world.
I suggest to you this morning there are facets of our lives that reflect the light Christ to the people around us.
THE FIRST FACET FOR THE CHRISTIAN LIVE IS HUMILITY. IF YOU WANT A POSITIVE ATTITUDE, BE HUMBLE.
Look at verse 3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Paul advised the Christians in Phillipi, to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. What Paul was pointing out was that Christians sometimes do the right things for the wrong motives.
Someone has said that if we would just follow this command from Paul we would could solve most of the problems in the church today.
In fact J. Vermon McGee wrote, “Some people just naturally cause trouble. If we could follow this injunction, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory,” I think it would solve 90 percent or maybe even 100 percent of the problems in churches today.”
There is always people who are looking to advance themselves and not the work of the kingdom God.
As a pastor, I have witnessed more than once a board member who was driven by his desire to make a name for himself. They begin to politic and for higher positions, and more power. I have watched as the church has chosen sides, leading to a split. The fall out involved people leaving the church and never returning. All this because one people was driven by selfish ambition and vain conceit.
Some people only thing about themselves.
Peter Loughman tells about a man he worked with. He said, I once worked with a guy who would, every year, place a call to a local florist on Christmas Eve and order two gift baskets, one for his teenage daughter and one for his wife. It was a quick call, lasting about twenty five seconds. The florist would always ask what he wanted in the baskets and he would reply, “Whatever adds up to $250”. His Christmas shopping done, he could get back to his own self absorbed world.
This is a man driven by selfish ambition.
Instead Paul calls us to act with humility.
Jesus himself was a person of humility.
Look at Matthew 11:28-29
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
If we are to live the positive life God wants for us we too live we need to act with humility. How do you do that, you might ask.
Well in the Message by Eugene Peterson we find these words.
Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.
So there is the answer, Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.
What a concept, not promote yourself, or build yourself up, or make a name for yourself, to put yourself aside, forget yourself, humble yourself and help others get ahead.
So humble yourself.
The first facet of the Christian live is humility.
THE SECOND FACET OF THE CHRISTIAN LIVE IS GENEROSITY. IF YOU WANT A POSITIVE ATTITUDE, BE GENEROUS.
Look with me at the example of Christ Jesus was Paul discusses it here in Philippians 2:
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Jesus did not hang on to his position that was equaly with God, instead he let it go. Jesus understood that you can not live as God wants as long as we are grasping. We, as humans, are grasping for money, for power, to success, we continue to grasp. Once we have something in hand, we continue to hang on to it. But Jesus example to to let go.
A life of selfishness is a life that hangs on to everything. The selfish man or woman lives life with the hands tightly closed around that they now have. The life of generousness is always open handed looking for were they can give.
Jesus was a giver. At his birth, he gave up the glories of heaven to some to us. Through out his live he gave his time, his love, and his resources for others. Even at his death, he gave up his life so we could have eternal life.
The most amazing word in this text is the word nothing. He made him self nothing. As you know, Paul wrote this in Greek, the word used for this phrase is κενόω kenóō , it means to make empty. Jesus emptied himself.
What an act of generosity. The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, emptied himself into servanthood for everyone around him.
(2 Corinthians 8:9, neb)
“You know how generous our Lord Jesus Christ has been: he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that through his poverty you might become rich”
Listen to what Jack Hayford said about openhandedness.
A person at peace with God and others is a person whose interpersonal relationships are open for giving and receiving acts of love. A person whose mind is focused on what is virtuous and praiseworthy wants to enjoy giving and receiving love. Both peace and purity lead to generosity.
Ilustration: John Wesley and the Holy Club.
The Third facet is obedience.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!