Philippians Sermon Notes Week 05

THE SECRET OF CONTAGIOUS JOY

Having the Mind of Christ, Part One

(Philippians 2:1-5)

A first grader was sitting with his family at the dinner table when he did the unpardonable:  He sneezed into his hands.  Right after the blessing.  Then he wiped them on his pants, and started to eat his macaroni and cheese.  Mom said, “Uh-uh young man.  You have germs on your hands now and you need to go to the bathroom and wash them.” He pushed away from the table, and stomped off to the bathroom muttering, “Jesus and germs, Jesus and germs.  That’s all I ever hear about around here and I can’t see either one of them!”

Well I hope this finds your home life less stressful than that!  Hopefully you’re seeing moments of joy break through even in the chaos of these days.

Let’s remember that we’re not just talking about ordinary joy here.  Ordinary joy comes to everyone at times if we’ll look for it:  the joy of playing with our kids or grandkids; of enjoying a good meal or watching a beautiful sunset.  These are gifts, and these are good.  But the quality of Christian joy is something more.

We are talking about embracing the joy that Jesus said “I give to you…” in John 15:11.  This is a joy that stays with you, regardless.  It’s the joy that helps you sing songs in the midnight of a prison cell or in your living room or a hospital room in the middle of a coronavirus outbreak.

We know that Paul had that kind of contagious joy.  We want to understand how to have a joy that will not be taken from us…a joy that Jesus had even as He faced the cross and His passion in Jerusalem.

The “hinge point” of this text and THE BIG IDEA of Philippians 2 revolves around verse 5:  “Have this mind in yourself that was also in Christ Jesus…”   If we don’t learn to think like Christ we will never know His joy.  If we want His joy that can’t be taken from us, we must embrace:
THE BODY OF CHRIST  (vv 1-2)

Now even as I write this, I am in a conversation with a person online about the frustration of social distancing.   Figuring out how to “embrace” the body in this time is tricky to say the least.  I know many watching would love nothing more than to be on our campus today.

But let’s remember that Paul was not physically with the Philippian church when he wrote this.   He was “socially distanced” in a jail cell hundreds of miles from them.   Let’s remember also that, in many places in the world today, contact between believers is illegal if not impossible due to persecution.

I will never forget the Iranian pastor who asked a group of believers gathered in Turkey for a time of learning, and prayer and encouragement, to please sing loud when we sing.  In Iran, small groups of believers gather in apartments for worship.  They have to whisper their songs, out of concern that their neighbors will hear and report them.  “Sing loud for us.”  Even isolation can’t keep us from worship!

But what Paul gives us in the first two verses are things that make Christian community strong and healthy, even when we can’t be physically with each other.

  • First, he speaks of ENCOURAGEMENT IN CHRIST
  • Next, he talks about COMFORT FROM LOVE
  • Then, PARTICIPATION (fellowship) IN THE SPIRIT.  “If any man…”
  • Followed by AFFECTION AND SYMPATHY (over 100 widows)
  • And finally, WALKING IN HARMONY

You know it’s interesting that all of these drain down to one bucket:  We are to be in unity, in harmony, walking in love.  Jesus said, “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). (Or Jim).   These verses tell us what that love looks like.  Joy comes when we embrace the body of Christ.  It is this that “completes our joy.”   

Until we embrace the MIND of Christ, we will not know the JOY of Christ.   Paul locates everything he’s said and is about to say “in Christ.”  If there is any encouragement IN CHRIST…  Christian joy requires a healthy relationship with Christ and with the body.

Christians are called to ACT like Christ.   Acting like Christ means we first begin THINKING like Christ.  If you or someone you know ACTS like the devil it’s because they are THINKING like the devil.   The enemy, by nature, is SELFISH, PROUD, and SELF SEEKING and when those attitudes characterize our lives, we are thinking the wrong way.

The mind of Christ, in other words, bears three fruits or life attitudes

  • Unselfish
  • Humble
  • Sacrificial

Paul refers to the MIND (lit. “Mind set”) three different times in the first five verses of Philippians 2.   There is a connection between how we THINK and what we DO.  If we are “like-minded,” we will have “the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”   Our fellowship as believers with each other and with Christ is rooted in how we think.

A. THINKING PRECEDES ACTING

Our THINKING precedes our ACTING.  We will act exactly like we think…no more and no less.   I’ve been reading a book lately called The God-Shaped Brain.  What would our brains; our minds look like if they had not been distorted by sin?   How would our thinking, and then our acting and living be different?  How would we think if we thought like God created us to think?   “The mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.” (Romans)

Part of what begins the moment we are redeemed is a process the Bible calls “the renewing of our minds.”  Think of it as a sort of rewiring of our brains; of our neural pathway and thought processes.  We all live with loose wiring and misplaced connections because of sin, and because we are born into and grow up in and live in an environment of sin.  Sin actually physically rewires our brains.  (PORN)

The God Who created you and wired up the three trillion plus nerve endings when He “knit you together in your mother’s womb” to begin with knows how to reconnect them properly.  But it doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s a process that we must cooperate with as we read God’s Word and stop believing lies that are hard-wired into us and then allow this process to transform us into thinking and then acting like Jesus.

“Let this mind (set); this attitude be in you which was also in Christ…”  Our attitudes are a reflection of how we think.  In a sense, the way we look at others is like looking at ourselves in a mirror.  These attitudes are characteristics of a God-shaped brain.

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THE MIRROR

If we are selfish, we will be suspicious of others.  If we are of a generous nature, we will be more trusting.  If we are honest with ourselves, we are less likely to anticipate deceit in others.  If we are inclined to be fair, we won’t always feel we’re being cheated.  Looking at others is like looking at ourselves in a mirror.  In other words, if you want to know how you think, ask yourself what you think about when you think about other people.

When you look in that mirror, what do you see?  Do you see the things that reflect the attitude; the mindset of Christ?

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Are you humble, or are you constantly seeking to exalt yourself?

Are you unselfish, or are you mainly concerned with what you want no matter what happens to others?

Are you sacrificial, or are you more concerned with losing or protecting your privilege… your possessions… or your life?

Now I can imagine some of you asking, ‘Ok Pastor.  I’m going to throw a flag here.  We’re in a crisis!  I have to take care of me and mine, don’t I?  I mean, on most days I’m a reasonably humble, unselfish, and sacrificial person.  But we are in a state of war right now!  Surely we get a pass on this don’t we?  How do we survive when everyone else is pushing themselves, protecting themselves, and not being sacrificial?

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How would Jesus think about this present time we are in?  What would Jesus’ attitude be to others?   Are these attitudes just to be applied on warm spring Sunday mornings, as we gather in Bible study groups, and the birds are singing and the sky is cloudless?

Or is this the mindset most needed in a time like we are facing?

Again, I am challenging us in this study to experience joy.  I don’t want this to be a theoretical exercise.  And I never promised this was easy-peasy.  I want it to work in you right now!

Here is where it starts.  Finding joy…being joyful…means having the mind of Christ as we relate to God and to others.  And relating well to God and others embracing these 3 essential things:

Living Unselfishly :  Consider the interests of others ahead of yours

Allison’s gift…Joy comes as we live putting others interests first

Living Humbly:   Esteem others better than yourself…humility doesn’t mean we think less of ourselves; it means we don’t think of ourselves.

CS Lewis suggested that the first step of humility is admitting that we are proud!   “All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for `God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”   For the sake of our country, we had better begin to be humble!

Hold back nothing in your obedience to God

Until you figure out what you’re willing to die for, you’ll never learn what you are meant to live for.  “The Son of man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus knew what He was willing to give everything for.

WE MUST EMBRACE THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST.

(Hebrews 12:2) “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  In Phil 2 we see Christ’s unselfish attitude, His absolute humility “making Himself nothing;” His sacrificial love.

READ PHILIPPIANS 2:6-11

KEEPING OUR MINDS PURE

There once was a town high in the Alps that straddled the banks of a beautiful stream.  The stream was fed by springs that were old as the earth and deep as the sea. The water was clear like crystal. Children laughed and played beside it; swans and geese swam on it. You could see the rocks and the sand and the rainbow trout that swarmed at the bottom of the stream. High in the hills, far beyond anyone’s sight, lived an old man who served as Keeper of the Springs. He had been hired so long ago that now no one could remember a time when he wasn’t’t there. He would travel from one spring to another in the hills, removing branches or fallen leaves or debris that might pollute the water. But his work was unseen. One year the town council decided they had better things to do with their money. No one supervised the old man anyway. They had roads to repair and taxes to collect and services to offer, and giving money to an unseen stream-cleaner had become a luxury they could no longer afford. So the old man left his post. High in the mountains, the springs went untended; twigs and branches and worse muddied the liquid flow. Mud and silt compacted the creek bed; farm wastes turned parts of the stream into stagnant bogs. For a time no one in the village noticed. But after a while, the water was not the same. It began to look brackish. The swans flew away to live elsewhere. The water no longer had a crisp scent that drew children to play by it. Some people in the town began to grow ill. All noticed the loss of sparkling beauty that used to flow between the banks of the streams that fed the town. The life of the village depended on the stream, and the life of the stream depended on the keeper. The city council reconvened, the money was found, and the old man was rehired. After yet another time, the springs were cleaned, the stream was pure, children played again on its banks, illness was replaced by health, the swans came home, and the village came back to life. The life of a village depended on the health of the stream.

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