Time to Wake the Sleeping Giant
A Call to an Outward Focus
– Last week in our series, Time to Wake the Sleeping Giant, we looked at a Call to Excellence. Four Steps to Excellence: (1) Their love will abound more in real knowledge and all discernment; (2) They will approve the things that are excellent; (3) They will be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; and; (4) They will be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus.
– This week we are going to look at the call to an outward focus, in the life of every Christian. We are going to look at 3 matters of importance in this passage: the benefits of being a Christian, the need for unity in the Body of Christ, and the command to be others-centered.
– God desires for His people to think the same way, loving each other, being united, and to be outwardly focused, not inwardly focused.
– The death of any church will be the attitude of being inwardly focused. Once a church starts to think that it is an organization that has the sole purpose of surviving, and that it exists only for those that are already a part of it, it has ceased being the church God has created it to be.
1) The benefits of being a Christian (1) – these 4 are the basis for the unity that Christians are supposed to have
a) Encouragement – “exhortation” in the sense of either rebuke or comfort, since they were believers they were expected to obey the commands of God, Paul used it as a basis to appeal for their spiritual unity
(1) The word translated encouragement can mean ‘comfort’ or ‘appeal’, and so it may mean either that the comfort found in Christ should be shared with others, or that we have his appeal to unity ~ D.A. Carson ~ b) Consolation of love – the comforting knowledge and assurance that comes from God’s love in Christ, demonstrated especially in Christ’s death for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life – Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8; 8:38-39; 1 Jn 3:16; 4:9-10, 16
(1) The love of the believers for God and for other believers should keep them from being divisive
(2) God’s love in people’s hearts produces spiritual unity in their lives
c) Fellowship of the Spirit – fellowship among believers is produced by the Spirit, who indwells each of them – 2 Cor 13:14
(1) Fellowship that comes from the Holy Spirit, which should help to stimulate unity in the Body
d) Affection and compassion – Christians are to have intense care and deep sympathy for each other (Phil 1:8; Col 3:12), all these benefits – encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness and compassion – are viewed by Paul as present realities for the Philippians (“if” = 1st class condition – viewed by Paul as a reality)
(1) One of the Spirit’s ministries is to produce within each believer a concern and love for other members of God’s family, this may be received or rejected by a believer and is a basis for spiritual unity.
(2) These two characteristics should lead to unity should be normal and expected
2) The need for unity in the Body of Christ (2) – these 4 emphasize the unity that should exist among Christians – on the basis of what was said in verse 1, Paul exhorted his readers to show in practical ways the unity which was theirs in Christ, their expression of spiritual unity would make his joy complete, corresponding to the 4 realities in verse 1, are 4 ways in which their spiritual unity would be realized.
a) Same mind – unity, not uniformity in thought, but the common disposition to work together and serve one another – the “attitude” of Christ – Acts 2:42; Phil 2:5; 4:2; Rom 12:16; 15:5; 2 Cor 13:11
(1) Paul knew what some church workers today do not know, that there is a difference between unity and uniformity. True spiritual unity comes from within; it is a matter of the heart. Uniformity is the result of pressure from without. Since the believers at Philippi are “in Christ,” this ought to encourage them to work toward unity and love, not division and rivalry. In a gracious way, Paul is saying to the church, “Your disagreements reveal that there is a spiritual problem in your fellowship. It isn’t going to be solved by rules or threats; it’s going to be solved when your hearts are right with Christ and with each other.” Paul wanted them to see that the basic cause was selfishness, and the cause of selfishness is pride. There can be no joy in the life of the Christian who puts himself above others.
~ Warren Wiersbe ~
b) Same love – Acts 2:44-45; 1 Jn 3:11, 14-20; 4:7-8, 21; 5:2-3; Rom 12:9; 2 Pet 1:4-9
c) United in spirit – Phil 2:20; 3:15-16; 4:2; Rom 12:16; 15:5-6; 1 Cor 1:10; 2 Cor 13:11; 1 Pet 3:8-9
d) One purpose – Acts 1:14; 2:1, 46-47; 5:12
(1) There are no great differences between the four phrases here, but we should note that twice there is reference to the mind or to thinking, and this is an emphasis found elsewhere in the letter. The apostle knew well that thought and attitudes are the basis of speech and action and so direct the whole course of a person’s life (2:5; 3:15; 4:8). This perhaps needs underlining in an age when there is great emphasis on feelings and experience. ~ D.A. Carson ~
3) The command to be others-centered (3-4) – a & b are the enemies of unity and harmony in the church – Paul gives these further exhortations based on the realities of verse 1, the Philippians had a problem of being self-centered
a) Not selfish (3) – this is an attitude of just wanting everything for yourself, making sure your needs or wants are met, no matter what – Rom 2:8; Phil 1:17
(1) The same word for selfish appears in 1:17 to describe the attitude of those who opposed Paul, without question such behavior is of the flesh and not the Spirit – see Gal 5:20, which uses the same word
b) Not conceited (3) – this is an attitude of being self-absorbed, no one has to ask you to talk about yourself, you will anyway
(1) “Vain conceit” – or “empty glory”, was probably the root cause of their selfish ambition
c) Humble (3) – the source of Christian unity. This is the mind-set of the person who is not conceited, but who has a right attitude toward himself
(1) Humility before God and man is a virtue every child of God needs to strive for. A spirit of pride in human relations indicates a lack of humility before God.
d) Preferential treatment for others (3) – not that everyone else is superior or more talented, but that Christian love sees others as worthy of preferential treatment – Rom 12:10; Gal 5:13; Eph 5:21; 1 Pet 5:5-6
(1) Paul exhorted the Philippians to consider others before themselves. “This will go far toward removing disharmony.” – Homer J. Kent, Jr. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (2) As Christians we often justify or rationalize our divisions. Cranfield makes this wise comment on the kind of unity for which Paul was concerned, and the way to pursue it: ‘Such unity will only come when Christians are humble and bold enough to lay hold on the unity already given in Christ and to take it more seriously than their own self-importance
~ C.E.B. Cranfield ~
(2) This should exist for lost people also – Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8;
e) Not looking out for yourself, but others (4) – your own personal interests are proper, but only if there is equal concern for the interests of others – Rom 15:1
(1) Paul explained how humility can be expressed – Phil 2:4
(2) Instead of concentrating on self, each believer should be concerned for the interests of others in the household of faith – Rom 12:10, preoccupation with oneself is sin
(3) The “submissive mind” does not mean that the believer is at the beck and call of everybody else or that he is a “religious doormat” for everybody to use! Some people try to purchase friends and maintain church unity by “giving in” to everybody else’s whims and wishes. This is not what Paul is suggesting at all.
~ Warren Wiersbe ~
– The Church needs to think the same way, loving each other, being united, and being outwardly focused, not inwardly focused.
– The Word of God explains to us what Christ has done for us as believers, and that is the basis for our unity. The Bible talks about the need to find out what God wants us to be doing – Making Disciples, Evangelism and Discipleship – and then to be doing it together for the glory of God. There is a real need for us in the Church to be others-focused. For too long we have been concerned with doing things the way that we have always done them, instead of recognizing what God says is non-negotiable, and reaching out to the lost world around us to win them to Christ.
– It is time for us to wake up, and communicate the Word of God in an understandable way to people. It is time for us to be cultural exegetes. There are souls that depend on it. It is time to recognize what God says is essential, not what we want. It is not about us!!!!
– It is time for us to be outward focused. It is time for us to infiltrate the culture around us, and win people to faith in Jesus Christ, and then disciple them to Christ-likeness. It is time to wake the sleeping giant!