Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we thank You for being You, while also giving to us—each other. Being Your beloved children is a huge blessing beyond compare! And being able to appreciate and rely upon our fellow Christian siblings is a joy. Lord, today we thank You for providing direction and guidance and loving motivation to each of us. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO GAVE HIS ALL TO SAVE YOU!
TEXT: Philippians 2: 1-5
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
CHRISTIANS ARE THE BEST! I’ve uttered those words at various times over the past few weeks. And I really mean it. CHRISTIANS ARE THE BEST! During these emotionally-charged days following my mother’s stroke, I’ve talked to countless people. In every case I have to explain what happened, what’s her current status, and try to buck them up emotionally—all at the same time. (I find myself repeating myself, a lot!) In most cases, I know the background of the folks I’m talking to. I know whether they go to church, or not. I know if they are active believers, or not. Now, believers and unbelievers alike have expressed great sympathy over my mother’s situation. You can see in their eyes that they are grateful not to be in my shoes. Compassion is a human emotion, not just a Christian one. That being said, CHRISTIANS ARE THE BEST! They take both their concern and their love to a whole new level. When the chips are down, they don’t bail, they don’t walk away, they don’t ignore the needs of others. No, they give of themselves what they can. They help as the Lord gives them strength. And they always, always pray. Most importantly of all, they do all these things for the right reasons. Their hearts are pure, their motives are spotless because the love of Christ has been poured into them by the Spirit and now comes gushing forth. It is during trying times that St. Paul’s injunction in our text: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” becomes a living reality for God’s faithful.
St. Paul started the church in Philippi. Remember the jailer of Philippi and how Paul and Silas were freed from his jail by God? Remember how that fellow came to faith instead of committing suicide? Remember his question to Paul: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And Paul’s answer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” The Christians at Philippi were close to Paul. They literally were his “brothers and sisters in Christ.” And now he writes to them in order to solidify their closeness even more. “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” After those words, Paul then goes on to outline the glorious Gospel! He outlines exactly how Jesus, God’s beloved Son, humbled Himself, took on human sin, died our death and rose from our graves.—All this in our place to save our souls and make us right with God.
Do you know why Christians Are the Best? Because they mimic Christ as best they can—for all the right reasons. Jesus saves us out of pure love. He gave us faith out of pure love. His grace, or undeserved love, permeated everything He did, everything He said, and everything He thought. He didn’t just share a few common emotions with us; He literally lived in our skin and became you and me. Thus, when Isaiah writes: “Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows” it is 100% true. And he did it all from a totally loving heart! He put us first instead of Himself.
I’ve seen the same thing play itself out in a small way over the past couple of weeks. The non-church going friends are genuinely sorry about my mother, but they are especially relieved they don’t have a similar situation in their own lives. In short, their compassion is touched a bit by human selfishness. However, that’s not the case among the Christians! They want to encourage. They seek avenues to comfort. They are filled with tenderness and compassion. They humbly try to add moral support, verbal support, physical support, and spiritual support at all times. It’s refreshing and it’s a joy—I can tell you that…..
Christians are the Best! Because Jesus Christ has made them the best along with the power of the Spirit. You can count on believers when you’re down. That’s the message of Paul today. And along with that message comes another: let’s all show such unity of love all the time! Why just reserve it for crisis moments? So, once more listen to Paul’s words: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being likeminded,