Thought for the Week 26 - 13th September by Rev Peter Baxandall

Welcome and Notices

HYMN:                         And can it be

Greeting and Preparation                                        (Page 1)

Summary Commandments                                     (Page 1)

Confession                                                                          (Page 2)

Gloria                                                                                    (Page 3)

Collect                                             Trinity 14

Merciful God, your Son came to save us and bore our sins on the cross: may we trust in your mercy and know your love, rejoicing in the righteousness that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Epistle Reading:                                     Philippians 2:1–11

Gospel:                                                     Matthew 18:1-6

Sermon              The mind of Christ                        (Page 4)

Creed                                                                                     (Page 4)

Intercession                                                                         (Page 5)

The Peace                                                                           (Page 7)

Offertory                                                                     (Page 7)

Eucharistic Prayer 1                                                  (Page 7)

Lord’s Prayer                                                             (Page 15)

Humble Access                                                         (Page 16)

Receiving the bread and wine

Post Communion Prayer                                         (Page 18)

HYMN:                         Lord for the years

Closing Prayer                                                          (Page 18)          

Sermon

Today we have two Bible readings, one from Matthew 18:1-6 and the other from Philippians 2:1-11.

In one of the commentaries on Matthew 18:1-6 there is the note that says, ‘Perhaps the best commentary on this passage from Matthew 18:1-6 is Philippians 2:1–11’.

With that in mind we will focus on the Philippians passage today.

Why do some of God’s children have such a difficult time getting along with each other?

A poem I heard states the problem perfectly:

To live above, with saints we love

Will certainly be glory.

To live below, with saints we know -

Well, that’s another story!

 

With so much division and dissension among professing Christians these days, we desperately need to hear and learn what Matthew 18 and Philippians 2 have to teach.

Jesus rebuked His disciples for their pride and desire for worldly greatness, and He taught them that the essentials for unity and harmony among God’s people was humility.

Someone has accurately defined humility as “that grace that, when you know you have it, you’ve lost it!”

Jesus explained that we can have different attitudes towards childlikeness and, consequently, toward true humility.

We are called to seek to become like the children (Matt. 18:3–4) in true humility, as to the Lord.

Notice that Jesus calls us to be childlike and not childish!

True humility means knowing yourself, accepting yourself, and being yourself - your God given best self - to the glory of God.

It means avoiding two extremes: thinking less of yourself than you ought to, or thinking more of yourself than you ought to.

We read about this on 5th July when we read Romans 12:1-11 from the J. B. Phillip’s version of the passage.

The truly humble person does not deny the gifts God has given to them, but instead uses them to the glory of God.

Not only did Jesus find personality problems within His early group of disciples, Paul also found similar problems within the various churches that he helped bring into being.

Paul was facing his problems with people at Rome as we read in Philippians 1:15-18, but what concerned him the most were the problems he had with people in Philippi.

When Epaphroditus brought a generous gift from the church in Philippi, and good news of the church’s concern for Paul, he also brought the bad news of a possible division in the church family.

Apparently there was a double threat to the unity of the church; false teachers coming in from outside (Phil. 3:1–3) and disagreeing members within (Phil. 4:1–3).

What Euodia and Syntyche were debating about, Paul does not state, but in Philippians 4:2 he pleads with them to find unity for the sake of the church as a whole.

We need to bear in mind 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 outside.

This is why Paul opens this section appealing to the highest possible spiritual motives (Phil. 2:1–4).

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 real joy in the life of the Christian who puts himself above others.

True humility thinks of others, not of self and with that in mind we note that there is a definition of Joy which is:

          Jesus first

          Others second

          Yourself last

 

All too often, we have this sentiment the other way around – Self first, Jesus second and others last of all.

The secret of joy in spite of circumstances is the single mind.

The secret of joy in spite of people is the submissive mind.

The key verse is Philippians 2:3 which in the New Living Translation reads: ‘Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.’

In Philippians 1, it is “Christ first” and in Philippians 2 it is “others next.”

It is important that we understand what the Bible means by “humility.”

The humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all!

The truly humble person knows themself and accepts themself as they really are in God’s sight (Rom. 12:3).

Such a person yields themself to Christ to be a servant, to use what they are and what they have for the glory of God and the good of others.

“Others” is the key idea in this chapter (Phil. 2:3–4); the believer’s eyes are turned away from themselves and focused on the needs of others.

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.

If we have the single mind of Philippians 1, then we will have no problem with the submissive mind of Philippians 2.

Paul gives us four examples of people with a submissive mind:

  • Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:1–11),
  • Paul himself (Phil. 2:12–18),
  • Timothy (Phil. 2:19–24), and
  • Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25–30).

Of course, the great Example is Jesus, and Paul begins by pointing towards Him.

Jesus Christ illustrates the characteristics of the person with the submissive mind – they think of Others, not themself (Phil. 2:5–6)

The “mind” of Christ means the “attitude” Christ exhibited.

As we read in Philippians 2:6 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”.

After all, outlook determines outcome - if the outlook is selfish, the actions will be divisive and destructive.

Jesus did not think of Himself; He thought of others and His outlook (or attitude) was that of unselfish concern for others.

But sadly, that is not always the case among God’s people and that is why Jesus had to teach about personality problems in such detail – and why Paul had to address the same problems within the churches.

More than twenty times in the New Testament, God instructs us how to live with “one another.”

  • We are to prefer one another (Rom. 12:10),
  • edify one another (1 Thes. 5:11), and
  • bear each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).
  • We should not judge one another (Rom. 14:13)
  • but rather admonish one another (Rom. 15:14).

Others is the key word in the vocabulary of the Christian who exercises the submissive mind.

Thinking of “others” in an abstract sense only is insufficient; we must get down to the nitty-gritty of true service.

Jesus thought of others and became a servant!

Paul traces the steps in the humiliation of Christ:

(1) He emptied Himself, laying aside the independent use of His own attributes as God;

(2) He permanently became a human, in a sinless physical body;

(3) He used that body to be a servant;

(4) He took that body to the cross and willingly died.

What grace!

  • From heaven to earth,
  • from glory to shame,
  • from Master to servant,
  • from life to death, “even the death of the cross!”

Many people are willing to serve others if it does not cost them anything, but if there is a price to pay, they suddenly lose interest.

Jesus “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8).

His was not the death of a martyr but the death of a Saviour.

He willingly laid down His life for the sins of the world.

It has been said, “Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.”

The person with the submissive mind does not avoid sacrifice.

They live for the glory of God and the good of others; and if paying a price will honour Christ and help others, they are willing to do it.

The test of the submissive mind is not just how much we are willing to take in terms of suffering, but how much we are willing to give in terms of sacrifice.

It is one of the paradoxes of the Christian life that the more we give, the more we receive; the more we sacrifice, the more God blesses.

This is why the submissive mind leads to joy; it makes us more like Christ.

The kind of rivalry that puts Christian against another Christian and one ministry against another ministry is not spiritual.

The whole purpose of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation is the glory of God (Phil. 2:11).

Therefore, from the teaching of both Jesus and Paul we learn the need to deal with personality problems within the church and to seek to find a real sense of love and unity among His people.

We finish by looking at a verse from 1 Peter 5:6 where we read: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you”

 

 


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