Sep 8 2019 - How to be a Person who Meets Needs
8th September 2019
Last week – we finished with “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” – continuing on:
22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;
To be with Christ is much better than to live – in theory, we agree with that! We all would say – heaven will be better than this! But we are all concerned about the ‘departing’ part
24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
For Paul – it is more beneficial for others.
To live on – is to live with self-sacrificial love for others. It is living for others’ well-being and benefit – for the here-and-now, but also for their eternal benefit! So often, we can only focus on the physical well-being of others and neglect the eternal benefit – or vice-versa – and either way misses the mark and is wholly inadequate. We need to find a balance – both are critical!
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 in no way alarmed by your opponents
So about six weeks ago, we focused on this verse – how to be citizens of heaven first and foremost. Our citizenship is primarily in heaven. As citizens of heaven, how do we live in this world, as citizens of this country, in such a way as best represents our primary citizenship (citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom) –being good citizens here as representatives of the heavenly kingdom.
28 in no way alarmed by your opponents –
How to engage in community without having worldly speech that has nothing to do with Christ.
Philippians 2:Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy,
IF is not a question – he is not questioning these things – it is more of a rhetorical thought – of course there is encouragement in Christ, comfort provided by love…
Because we know that in Christ we have all of these benefits – NOW – because of all that – here is how to live together with the foundation and assurance of knowing all we have in Christ: 2 complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose.
A quick caution/correction – Be of the same mind – some think that he is talking about a uniformity of opinion, viewpoint, position, or style – and there is this general thinking – if we love Jesus and read the Bible correctly – which always means – read the bible like I read it! Then we will be of the same mind of how to do church and life – but that is not what this passage is talking about – context, context, context.
Same mind – next slide:
Philippians 2:5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
This next section is one of my favorites – although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality a thing to be grasped…
The mind Paul is telling them to have – laying aside our privileges and advantages in self-sacrificial love and service to others. This is how to approach church -this is how to approach relationships – to lay aside our privilege, position – and advantage. That is what Jesus did. He had a lot more to lay aside – it is not even comparable, but He was willing to do that.
Koinonia – having the same mind and purpose is to advance the gospel.
We live in self-sacrificial love for others and live for the kingdom of God and the advancement of the gospel. If we do these two things – we will be okay. That is what it means to be a Christian.
Our church has a significant diversity of opinion – on style, etc. but as long as we hold to the basic creeds of the historical faith – those things that believers have held to for 2000 years – and that is not books and books and books – but those things fit on a page – smaller than almost every church’s statement of faith. As long as we hold to those things, some level of diversity is an advantage and strength. Those who strive for uniformity are missing out. I think we see that in the New Testament.
To live in diversity is really hard. We must hold to the historic, orthodox faith. He dealt with it in Romans in 3 chapters, 6 chapters in Ephesians (all the chapters)
James/Peter both dealt with it. There is only one way to live in diversity well – by laying aside our privileges, positions, etc. in order to serve others in self-sacrificial love.
It is hard, but it is what God calls us to do. We know that there is encouragement in Christ, comfort in the Spirit…
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
This is the attitude. This is the mind to have.
HE starts with the negative – selfishness – vain/empty conceit. It is being ambitious about some position we hold in the church – rivalry or boasting – a me-first mentality. Conceit – putting others down to put himself forward – win at all costs mentality – and Paul is saying that is never the proper attitude for a Christian – not the way Christians should ever live.
Then the positive: Humility of mind – going back to Jesus. And the question we need to ask – in what ways do you think of yourself as better than others? Ask yourself that honestly!
Smarter/work harder – more right – better looking (I don’t have a problem with that one!) We all have ways. Paul is saying – NOPE! With humility of mind, regard one another as more important. Value others above yourself
Precautionary – this is not anti-self-care. Nor is he saying to have a low self-esteem. Be like Jesus.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
This means to have a diligent, watchful eye to discover the needs of others. So when we enter a situation – where there are other people – most situations – in that situation – we are to be watching – looking out for the needs of others – think if everyone in the world did that! Let’s lower that – Think if everyone in your FAMILY did that! Or in your workplace – it would change entirely! If you are trying – you might be the only one.
There are four categories of needs to look for:
Physical – these can be the most obvious and easiest to recognize. Looking out – is more than finding our – as Christians – we are like – how can I help – but how to look out? How to discover needs? That is more difficult. Maybe there is an elderly couple – or elderly single – who lives in your neighborhood – or you see at Church…
What does that person need?
Young family with toddlers – what does that family need?
Someone loses a job – how do we meet that person’s need.
Relational needs – you see someone sitting alone – maybe they are alone a lot? We have to be careful and sensitive – some people want to be alone – I get that.
I think too – in different environments – church/community/work – we need to be looking out for those who are outsiders.
Third – emotional. Looking out for someone who is going through a tough time – that person needs a listening ear. They don’t necessarily need our advice. In giving advice – don’t give it unless you’ve been given permission. You can ask – are you looking for advice? Sometimes they just need our presence.
Sometimes they need our empathy – to understand what they are going through. That is a hard one for me – trying to learn. When you say – I understand what you are going through – if you don’t – don’t say it – rather – I can’t imagine how hard it is…
Spiritual – everyone needs to be reconciled to God. We need to look out for our contacts – those we run into and are around – the need to be forgiven and reconciled to God.
Everyone who comes to Christ needs discipleship and spiritual formation. They need encouragement – comfort and support – we can do that by sharing the Word.
Three things to help us become a person who meets needs –
First – develop a heart of compassion. Compassion is not a personality – it is a character quality.
There are some who have the gift of mercy who help those who are going through struggles. You might think you don’t have that – but that doesn’t let you off the hook to be compassionate toward others who are struggling. We must understand and go deep into our own struggles – we must be willing to do that – if we ever wish to be compassionate toward others. That is where compassion comes from – having been there too. I have my own problems and struggles and failures – and it is out of that that you can be compassionate.
Second – we need to learn how to do unseen, humble service. Acts of humble service – in secret – sometimes we have to do service in public – we serve the church – and sometimes it is public – that is fine – that is a reality – and good and important – but it is crucial that all of us serve in ways no one sees – volunteering for the nursery is generally unseen. There are others – who wouldn’t want their names mentioned.
There are a group of men who have decided amongst themselves to make sure some stuff in the church gets done. They have made a list – fixing broken windows – taking care of the landscaping – and they just do it – no one knows or says anything. We have to have those things in our lives. Especially if your service tends to be public – then you really need to have unseen service as well.
Hospitality – to look out for and meet needs – we need to learn to be hospitable – GOSPEL hospitality. The welcome wagon is important – and having people over for dinner is great – but gospel hospitality has to go beyond that.
Hospitality is this – seeking to identify strangers, outsiders, in our context and then making it our mission to engage with them in all areas to meet their needs – including eternal and physical. That is what it means to perform and proclaim the gospel