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About this series
I Choose Love
How to Build Lasting Relationships
One of Jesus' last commands, and one of God's greatest delights is that His children, those who call Christ Lord, would love one another. But we all know loving other people doesn't come naturally, and it's not always easy. In this series, Chip teaches us, from the book of Philippians, Chapter 2, how to choose love and build relationships that last.More from this series
I came up around a group, you came up around a group, and these groups have thoughts about the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of men. And I will just say some of you struggle with guilt because no how much you do, it’s never enough. Because you live with this: there’s never enough; God is down on you. Now, that’s an extreme. That’s not what should be taught.
Some of you are laid back to the point of you’re not doing what you need to, but you have this subtle, “God is in control.” He really is in control, but that doesn’t excuse you. So God is sovereign. I am responsible. God has gifted me, sheerly by His grace this new life in His Spirit, it is a riches that I know live out and I mind my claim. Christ is being formed in you.
And so what you want to do is you want to say, “I don’t want what Calvin taught and I don’t want what Jacob Arminius taught. I want what Jesus taught. I want what the New Testament says. I want what the Word of God says.”
And there’s going to be certain times in certain passages, I’ve been doing this for quite a while, I don’t fully understand, I don’t think anyone fully understands. But I’ve got plenty of truth to know this: I will stand before God as a follower of Jesus and give an account for my time, my energy, my money, and my decisions. And I have been around long enough to know this, is that despite my mistakes, my difficulties, the times even that I have sinned, the times when I knew what was right and I didn’t even do it – there is this patient, kind, loving, sovereign God that is working even those difficulties and things that people have done to me and circumstance that I can’t understand because He is such a – are you ready? Good, good Father.
And, so, becoming like Jesus and following Him is a cooperative effort. Your effort and discipline to mine, not earn, but to mine out the grace that God has given you.
Well, the question then becomes is: How do you work out what God worked in? It’s nice to hear that. I gave you the theory and the history. Well, practically, how do you do it? Well, Paul, this is a really amazing thing.
After chapter 2, verse 12, and after verse 13, guess what comes – verse 14 and 15 and 16 and 17. So guess what Paul is going to do – he says, “I want you to obey, to be the kind of follower of Jesus, fully by His grace, even if I come or I don’t come, but the goal is I want you to be under the hearing, so I am going to give you very specific things to obey so that you have unity and that God uses you in this perverse generation.”
So, are you ready? Get your pen out. Keep your Bible open. Here is command number one. He says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” So the command is: be a grateful servant. Be a grateful servant.
If, not to be overly technical, but if you had the Greek text in your hand, you would read it and you would go, “Oh, wait, the word order! It’s completely out of order.” They took the word everything and do everything, and it belongs in the back of the sentence and they put it all the way in the front of the sentence. For what? Emphasis.
Drive your car. Pay your bills. Live with your mate. Respond to the government and pay your taxes. How? “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
The word for complaining here is basically grumbling. It’s that infectious, negative attitude. It’s really about: be a grateful servant in your speech and your attitude.
Don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t talk about your boss or your supervisor behind their back, don’t be negative, don’t be critical, don’t be sarcastic, don’t put people down. This is getting pretty convicting just me saying this to myself.
But not only don’t complain, but don’t argue. It’s a legal term. It has to do with dissensions and disputing and taking sides. Can you imagine what would happen, just hypothetically, if every genuine follower of Jesus obeyed this with regard to their social media? No complaining. No arguing. No dissensions. No name calling. No attacking other people.
See, this was happening in the Philippian church and is this happening in anybody else’s home? Is this happening at work? Anybody else’s small group? This is happening everywhere, isn’t it?
See, what he’s going to say is: You want to work out your salvation? You want to go into training and practice? Begin with your speech, because Jesus said, “The good man, out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good. The evil man, out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil. For the mouth speaks by that which fills the heart.”
The two most vivid ways to know where you’re at in your journey with the Lord Jesus is ask: What does my money say about my values? And what does my speech say about my heart? And those two things are just pretty black and white.
If it’s negative, if it’s complaining, if it’s putting people down – see, if you change your speech, your heart has to change.
Our kids, we have had some that were less negative and some more negative. I had one who was extraordinarily negative. She came out of the womb – oh, I said “she,” I guess we know who it is. She was. The glass never got half full. And so we got a jar and we wrote “missions” on it, and Annie’s speech, and all my kids memorized Ephesians 4:29. “Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment that it might give grace to those who hear.”
And so we started out with every time a negative comment came out, she put a dime in the jar. Then we went to quarters. Then we went to fifty cents – she was very generous to missions at the church.
But here’s the thing: she went into training, she went into training, and we talked about it. And then she began to memorize some verses. Now, you know what? Part of that was a leadership gift that she has that when she looked at life, she saw what was wrong. And then when she thought it, it came out of her mouth at the same time. She did not get that from her mother.
So, we went into training together to get a hold of our speech. You might evaluate things and see something that, Oh, that should be over here instead of like that, or, that’s not the right attitude, or, we need to fix that at work. That might be a real giftedness you have, but when it comes out of your mouth, in the wrong context and not in the right way with the right tone of voice, it’s disunifying.
Second, he says this is for a purpose. The purpose of being grateful is so that you can be a godly servant. God wants us to be godly. Godly publically, godly privately, and godly personally. Circle the word blameless, circle the word pure, and circle the word without fault.
The word blameless is relationship to the outside world. It means the people at work, your neighbors, people at the coffee shop, the dry cleaners, the team one of your kids plays on. He says, “Be blameless.”
Be the kind of Christian that they’re not going, “Oh my gosh. That person says they are a Christian, but listen to their language, listen to the put-downs, look at their morality.” He says, “No, no, no, no. You’ve got to be blameless. Not perfect. Blameless.” When God shows you that your life is ungodly, and it would reflect negatively on Jesus and His Church, you say, “I can’t live that way.”
Second, it’s privately. It says, “Blameless and pure.” The word pure here means like undiluted wine or it was used of metal that didn’t have a mixture of both iron and something else in it. It’s pure. This is about your motives. This is about, when no one is around, who are you really?
And then, finally, he says, “Not only blameless and pure,” but he goes on to say, “without fault,” and, again, here it doesn’t mean in terms of perfect, but without fault is relationship to those in the Church and especially your relationship to God. The word was used for an animal without blemish in your offering and in your sacrifice.
And so, in essence, what he is really saying is: I want you to obey, I want you to be the kind of Christians in a really tough world that, you’re positive, thankful people – not positive thinking – you’re genuinely thankful. And your speech and your actions reflect it. Second, I want you to be godly. I want you to be godly toward the outside world, I want you to be godly and have personal integrity within, and I want you to be godly in terms of your relationship with God.
I love the next line where he says, “…so that you can do something in a very crooked and perverse generation.” We all here, we want to see the world change, right? We all believe the world is, it’s crazy right now. And people ask me all the time, “Well, what can I do?” This is what we can do. Be grateful people. Be godly people.
And, notice, the result is to be a bold servant in action and words. He says, “When you’re godly in the midst of a crooked and perverse” – literally, it’s a twisted “generation.” And I think it’s even more twisted now than it was then.
“But in which you shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out,” or literally, “hold forth the Word of God.” And so he says to them, This is the kind of Christian I want you to be, and when you do that, you’re demonstrating something. You’re making a difference. It’s like there’s this black backdrop and you’re shining in this corrupt world like shining stars. And people take notice.
I have a very good friend who decided to leave a very powerful, lucrative job. He had a great position, extremely well-paid. And there came a time where the company and those in power were asking him to make some decisions that lacked integrity. And he had worked with all the other people in the company and set a standard that no matter what, we won’t compromise. And people knew he was a follower of Christ and integrity really mattered.
And it came to the point where he – crossroads – and out of integrity, let that go.
And he told me a little bit about the last day with all the employees. And these are high-tech, grown men and women in a fast-paced world, overwhelmed with emotion. Like a bright, shining star in the midst of a cutthroat, make money, fudge the facts, how do we make it look faster and better? That we can go public or whatever the goals are?
And someone steps and says, “There’s something that matters more than money. I’m a follower of Christ. It’s the truth that sets you free. And I am going to stand on my convictions, regardless of the consequences.”
And there was an entire company that saw a star shining brightly.
Notice, “You shine like stars,” and you’re bold. You hold forth God’s Word. You’re not ashamed to be a Christian in your neighborhood. You’re not ashamed of the Bible at work. Do I understand you’re going to get some flak? Of course. Did the early disciples get some flak? Did Jesus get some flak? Did the Reformers get some flak?
And some point in time we have to realize it’s coming. So let’s respond in a loving way. Let’s shine like stars. Let’s be the church that, Oh my lands! They remodeled another school. Oh my lands, they are taking in the refugees. We just had a team come back from India. They did all that dental work and medical work. Oh my lands…
Who says, “Oh my lands,” anyway? That must be from mother or my childhood.
You want to know how to work out what God worked in? Be a grateful servant. Be a godly servant. Be a bold servant.
And, finally, his whole motive was, I’m not down on you Philippians. This isn’t a list to do all the stuff of some religion. Be a joyful Christian. Here’s my motive. My motive is that I am going to stand before God and I’m don’t know if I’m executed or not executed, but I am going to stand before God and boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run in vain or labor in vain, but I poured out my life like a drink offering on the sacrifice and the service of your faith.
And what he is picturing here is that that’s a picture of getting executed. He is taking this Old Testament picture of when you would offer a sacrifice and then he would take, maybe, wine and pour it on the altar as it is going up. It’s a drink offering.
He says, If my blood, if my life, if I’m a drink offering, here’s the deal: I am going to be glad and I am going to rejoice in dying. So you too be glad and rejoice with me. Is that amazing?
As you look at the back page, the first couple questions are ones you can just do by yourself. But grab a cup of tea, coffee, Coke, Diet Coke and put your feet up somewhere in the next twenty-four or forty-eight hours and say, Hm, what expectations do I have in terms of what I think God is going to do for me? And are they accurate? And what do, down deep, what do I think God expects of me?
For some of you, you need a big dose of grace. Here’s what, He expects that you receive His love. And for others, He expects you to get off your derriere and quit expecting that Bible to read itself and to discipline yourself to godliness so He can let you experience what you already possess.
Where do you see growth and progress in the working out of what God has worked in? Some of you, you just go so negative. Oh, I ought to be more this. I ought to do more of this. Ought to do this. How about writing down: I have become more patient. I have become more generous. You know what? I’m a better dad than I used to be? I clean up with my roommates. Write down where God and it will encourage you.
And then where do you need to focus effort and energy to allow Jesus’ life to be manifested in you and through you? And these words, right? They come right out of the text. And just, don’t check them all. You’ll go nuts, if you already haven’t.
But just ask yourself, Lord, whisper this prayer, Lord, Holy Spirit, would You show me which one, at the most, two – is it my attitude, speech, boldness, authenticity, godliness?
And check one of those and then just say, Lord, I can’t do this. I can’t do this. But You can. So I am telling You I am inadequate and Your power will be my adequacy. So would You help me? Would you help me do that?