Philippians 2:1-11 Sermon on Humility

Humility – God’s Path to True Greatness

Philippians 2:1-11


Michael Phelps has set 39 world records and his 8 gold medals in the Beijing Olympics are more than anyone has previously won in a single Olympics. He is said to be both the greatest swimmer and the greatest Olympian of all time. He has received the World Swimmer of the Year six times and in 2008 was named sportsman of the year! It’s said of him that he’s maybe the greatest athlete of all time. Certainly, in athletic competition, he has achieved the pinnacle of greatness.

What did he do to achieve these incredible results?

Phelps trains for six hours a day, six days a week, without fail. Even if

Christmas day falls on a training day he does a full day of training. Total dedication to his training program has made him a world champion.

He swims approximately 50 miles (80km) each week, which is over 8 miles (13km) per training day. Because of his rigorous training schedule, he has two massages everyday and also takes ice baths  to help his body to recover.

So,that’s what’s required to achieve true greatness in the world of swimming. Today, we’re going to examine what is required to achieve true greatness as a follower of Jesus Christ.

The passage we will be looking at today is Philippians 2:1-11 and gives us a road map to achieve true greatness. Please stand with me for the reading of God’s Word.

1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 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. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I)     Strive for Unity

1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ,if there is any consolation of loveif there is any fellowship of the Spiritif any affection and compassion2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same loveunited in spiritintent on one purpose.

·        Paul continues his exhortation to the Philippians by appealing to them to strive for unity in their relations with other believers in the church. The basis for this appeal is fourfold. In each instance, he uses the phrase “if any”. The Greek word “ei” can be translated either “if” or “since”. Translating them “if” makes them rhetorical questions for which the obvious answers are “yes, of course” Translating them “since” conveys the same meaning that every believer experiences these blessings in Christ. So Paul was arguing that since they experienced these wonderful blessings in their relationship with Christ, they should they should therefore strive for unity in their relationships with one another. In addition to these four bases for unity, Paul gives one more basis for them to be unified. This final reason shows just how much Paul loves the Philippians. He says that they will make his joy complete if they will be united by a strong love for one another.

·        1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

·        Think about your own body for a moment and how it functions. How ridiculous would it be if your hands are over here washing the dishes, your feetare strolling over to the parking lot, while your eyes are studying for this week’s Bible lesson. Now some of you Moms with little kids may say, “YES!,that’s exactly what my life is like!” Well, maybe so, but that’s another story. The point is that obviously all the parts of your body must work together in order to accomplish anything.Functionally every believer is a unique part of the body of Christ. It is just as essential that we believers work together in unity under the headship of Jesus Christ as it is for the various parts of our own body to work together in harmony.  Paul is saying in these first two verses that unity should be the direct result of receiving encouragement, love, fellowship and compassion from Christ.

·        The opposite of unity is division and strife.

·       Proverbs 13:10a Where there is strife, there is pride,

·       Pride is the breeding ground for strifeIf pride characterizes a body of believers, you can be sure there will be division and strife there rather than unity.

·       Instead of warning them against the damage that pride would do to their fellowship, he approaches the issue positively and exhorts them to humble themselves in their relationships with one another.

II) Humble Yourselves

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.

·        Did you notice that Paul moves straight from striving for unity in their relationships to humbling themselves?

·        He focuses on Humility because it is the key ingredient in having harmonious relationships. Think about someone you know that “everybody likes”. That man or woman tends to be humble rather than arrogant. Am I right? Humility is an important building block in strong relationships.

·        Paul’s saying here that it’s never OK (not occasionally or sometimes) to be motivated by selfishness or arrogance.

·        Notice that Paul is not saying that it’s wrong to look after your own self-interest. In fact, God has made us with a built in motivation to take care of ourselves. All the great men of the Bible: Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Paul, and even Jesus Himself looked out for their own interests.

·        Now, before you start to stone me for making a statement like that, first hear me out. Though they did look after their own interests, they didn’t do it in a selfish way, but according to the will of God.

·        For example:

·        Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.

·        It says that Moses motivation was that “he was looking to the reward.” He looked out for his own long term interests by making the short term sacrifice of enduring ill-treatment according to the will of God. And also take a look at what Hebrews 12 said was Jesus’ motivation.

·        Hebrews 12:2?fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

·        They realized that obtaining God’s best for eternity required personal sacrifice in the here and now.

·        Moses, Jesus, and other godly Biblical characters certainly had other motives as well, but acting in their own long term self interest was one of their motivations.

·        Biblically, there’s nothing wrong with looking after one’s personal interests – it’s expected!

·        Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

·        So God’s solution is not to despise your own interests, but God’s way is to look out for otherss interests the way you look out for your own.

Next, Paul gives us the very best example of how to do that!

Sermon continued at part 2 of this sermon on humility.

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