Go Together – Philippians 2
This message is the third message in our Joyride series.
Probably all of you that hosted Thanksgiving this past week fall into one of two groups. The first group of you hosted Thanksgiving because you just love preparing the food and having everyone over to your house and one of the great joys of Thanksgiving to you is having everyone over at your place. The second group would be those of you that hosted Thanksgiving because you felt like if you didn’t do it, no one else would. You don’t necessarily enjoy having everyone over to your house, actually if your quite honest about it your family annoys you, but you know that someone has to host so you’ve done it… There’s a very different experience between those two groups. It’s the difference between “I get to” and “I have to.”
I think there’s a lot of factors that are at work in that dynamic, specifically I think you’re more likely to want to play host if you’ve got a natural ability to be hospitable, cook, and if you’re more of an extrovert…. And if you’ve got a passion for getting the family together, keeping those family ties strong. I think when you find ways to serve that fit your gifts, abilities, passions, and personality it isn’t drudgery it’s a joy. It can be the difference between “I get to” and “I have to.”
The passage that we are going to cover this morning in our closing message in this Joyride series in Philippians 2 deals with the attitude that all of this rests on… Let me be really clear from the start- You can have this attitude that Paul commands the Philippians to adopt but without the proper outlet you don’t experience the joy that he speaks of…
So if through my message you think something’s wrong because you’ve got this mindset Paul speaks of and you’re serving but it doesn’t bring you joy- I’d say that means we haven’t found the right place for you…
Before I start reading chapter 2, you need to know that in Chapter 1 Paul is saying that he hopes to come and visit the Philippians again but he doesn’t know if he’ll get to, because maybe he’ll lose his life or not be released.
He says, honestly he’s not sure which fate he’d rather have.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Then in 1:27-29 we have this:
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent,
I may hear of your affairs,
that ye stand fast in one spirit, w
ith one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
He says, if I don’t get to come and see you continue to stand together and do not fear your adversaries. Then he says in your conduct is a testimony to them that they are doomed to judgment and that you have been given grace and freedom.
Now I want to point out something, Paul doesn’t say to do this because it will be a testimony. He says it will be, but that’s not the motivation. That’s not a payoff.
The reason, the why, the because is in verse 29.
For it has been given to you in the behalf of Christ to not only believe on Christ, but also to suffer for his sake.
Hold onto that as we move into chapter 2.
In 1973 Mark R. Lepper of Stanford and David Greene of the University of Michigan ran a little experiment with Preschoolers. Preschoolers who enjoyed coloring were selected. They were then brought to a room where they could color whatever they liked for 6 minutes. The preschoolers were separated into 3 groups. 1 group was told that if they colored the paper they would receive an award certificate afterward. 1 group wasn’t told that they would receive the award certificate, but were given one at the end when they weren’t expecting it. 1 group was not promised a reward and they were not given one.
The researches then watched the same pre-schoolers over the next week as they played in their preschool class. They observed through a mirrored window where they couldn’t be seen and they were watching to see which children were more likely to choose to color when it was provided as an option among many other things… The children who had been promised a reward and then given one were less than half as likely to spend time coloring as the children who had not been promised a reward. Similar experiments have shown that promising rewards to people who give blood actually make them less likely to give blood over time… The researchers showed the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation is when you do something to get some outside benefit. It’s the reason you go to a job you don’t like. You’re there not because you enjoy it, but because they pay you. Intrinsic motivation is when you do something because you naturally enjoy it, it’s the reason you’ll spend money on your hobby, wake up early to go for a run, or do something for free that others would charge money to do…
When Paul encourages the Philippians in this, he doesn’t say if you will do this then you can count on these results or outcomes. Instead, he is looking to shape their intrinsic motivation. He’s looking to change their mindset. This morning I could give you a list of benefits that would come from serving in the church and in the community, but if you do these things for the results you will get less fulfillment and joy out of them. The ride won’t be a joyride, it will be a taxi service.
It will be like the difference between giving our kids a ride to the mall and going on a road trip with your family… For this reason, Paul starts by challenging them to have a love for one another, to be selfless, and follow Christ’s example. He wants them to be sure that this Joyride isn’t just all about themselves.
Unity, love, and serving come naturally to those who are selfless.
Paul wants them to stand together, to look out for one another, to help one another, and he knows the best way to do that is to get to the root of the problem. To challenge them to be selfless. He knows the fruits that he wishes to see in their lives and in their church will be best produced by selfless hearts.
He doesn’t try to manipulate them, incentivize them, or guilt trip them. Rather, he strikes to the need of their hearts and when their hearts are reformed, it will be natural to live unified, loving, and serving. It also will bring about the greatest amount of joy. Serving others brings about the greatest amount of joy and happiness. When we have served others we have the greatest sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Secular institutions know this. For this reason large corporations give their employees opportunities to do community service knowing that it will bring them greater job satisfaction. AA knows this, for this reason the final step encourages members of the program to serve others. Athletes know this, for this reason many run, swim, and bike to raise awareness, raise funding, etc.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;
Paul gives us a negative and points out the misshapen corrupt motivations that many people can have. There are people who serve out of strife. They serve others to prove a point. They serve others to win others to their side. They serve others to get an edge in the arena of public opinion. For them, serving is a photo-op. The original word that Paul uses for strife here is used on contemporary writings in greek to refer to politicians or magicians who use gimmicks to get applause.
This doesn’t last… There are a lot of churches that start out of strife, and from limited experience churches that start out of strife run on strife.
Nothing through Vainglory…
In conceit. In pride and vanity. Serving to be seen. Helping to be noticed.
“but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
The idea here is one of counting and leadership. Count others more than yourselves. Let others go first. Eugene Peterson paraphrased it this way, forget yourself long enough to help others.
When I worked on a bus route in the projects of Norfolk, one of the most important aspects of the job was getting the count right because we had to be sure we took everyone home that we brought to church. One Sunday we were short two. We eventually realized that when I had counted in the morning, I had counted myself and Justin. He was only counting the kids.
In humility, think more of others than you do yourself.
Count others, not yourself.It’s not about you.
Look not every man on his own things,
but every man also on the things of others.
Treat something borrowed better than you would your own…
When we borrowed a buddies van…
Selfless service is best exemplified in Christ.