Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 30, 2018
Text: Philippians 2:1-11 ILCW Series A 18:2086
Theme: I’m Completely Happy When I’m United with Christ and You!
Finish this phrase for me: “I am completely happy when….” (Possibilities: “I’m hunting/fishing.” “My Cardinals win the World Series.” “I’m healthy.”) There are many reasons to be happy and joyful. But a Christian’s source of true joy is found in the Savior.
No one in the entire world has a better reason for happiness than the Christian. We know beyond a shadow of doubt that our sins have been forgiven for Jesus’ sake! We know that through Christ we have a clear title to a mansion in the Father’s house above! We know that in the coldest days of darkness the sunshine of Christ’s comfort warms us, and everything will end okay! We have strength in sickness, solace in grief, help in distress, and triumph in calamity. It’s assured us, sealed in the blood of God’s Son Himself. He lived, died, and rose again for us that “our joy might be complete.” In Him I’m Completely Happy, no matter the outward circumstances of life. (Paul was in prison 1:13.)
So, don’t ever settle for a sort of “cosmetic joy” that comes from a forced smile on the outside when you’re really frowning within. No, a Christian’s joy is outward because it’s on the inside. It permeates our thinking, speaking, and doing. It brightens our inner and outer lives. It radiates wherever we go. The believer is completely happy in Christ.
And there’s more. Do you remember how Paul told us a couple of weeks ago, “None of us lives to himself alone” (Ro.14:7)? In the Lord we are social creatures. We are united in a special way with those who share this faith in the Savior. So, as a believer I’m Completely Happy When I’m United with Christ and You! If that’s not true for you, it would be good to examine the source of your discontent. Perhaps it will fall in line with some of the things that Paul says to us in our text today.
I. Happy when we are thinking and loving the same things in Christ.
Paul wrote, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love.”
That’s a good translation of Paul’s words. But I ran across another translation this week by a Greek professor at one of our schools which seems to me to make Paul’s words more meaningful. This is how he translated that verse: “You know that it’s Christ who gives you encouragement. You know that it’s His love that gives you comfort, and that you have a close friendship with the Holy Spirit. And since your hearts are filled with love and pity, please make me completely happy by all (of you) thinking the same thoughts and holding fast to the same Christian love. Be people of one spirit, and one mind.”
Now to me that capture’s Paul’s words a little bit better because Paul’s words about the Christian life are not in any way “iffy.” It’s not that Paul turns to you as a Christian and questions, “If you have any encouragement, if any comfort, if any fellowship, if any compassion in Christ.” No, the Christian’s faith and blessings from the Savior aren’t “iffy.” They are realities. He promised and assures you of them.
Christ gives you encouragement when times are down. He says things like, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know you by name; you are mine. You shall not want, and I will be with you wherever you go.”
You know that His love comforts you when distressed. He says, “Come to me. I will give you rest. You will find rest for your soul.”
You know that the Holy Spirit is your closest friend; He dwells within you. In fact, He promises to pray for you before God with “words that we can’t seem to express” (Ro.8:26).
With them at your side your heart is filled with their love and tenderness which you reflect to others. These things aren’t “iffy” to the believer. They are realities for all Christians! So, we’ve got a special common bond that unites us. It’s the Savior and His precious gifts.
We may have different thoughts about politics, different thoughts about raising a family, different thoughts about foods we like to eat, different thoughts on how to save for our futures, different thoughts about a whole lot of earthly stuff. But when it comes to the love of Christ that covers our sins with His blood and fills us with the rich blessings of redemption, we are one in His love. So Paul encouraged: “Please make me completely happy by all thinking the same thoughts and holding fast to the same Christian love.”
That’s unity, dear friends, the best unity you can have. It is created and maintained only through the gospel. And when we are thinking and loving the same things in Christ we shall be happy, completely happy, united with Him and each other.”
II. Happy when we are thinking what’s best for others.
Now, if you don’t feel that unity of Christ’s spirit in your homes or the church, something’s wrong. Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humility consider one another better than yourselves. Let each of you look carefully not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” If you are self-absorbed, if you are self-centered, if you think only about what’s best for yourself, you won’t be happy. In fact, you might not even be Christian.
Again, I like that Greek professor’s translation of this part when he writes, “Each one must humbly think of others as being more important than himself, so that you never think about what is best for yourself, but about what is best for others.”
Oh, that’s a hard thing to do, isn’t it – not thinking about what is best for you but what’s best for others? How do you do that in a world that constantly harps on thinking first about #1 – yourself? If you’re having trouble with this, learn from the Savior.
If there were ever a person who thought about what was best for others, not Himself, wouldn’t it be our Lord Jesus? He was God! Yet He willingly gave up the full and constant use of that glory and power when He was born into this world as a little baby. He wasn’t found in a palace; He was found born in a stable, a helpless baby, put under the care of a young mother. When he became man, he didn’t assume the status of a king, but a poor servant. What in the world was He thinking? The Creator took on the form of one of His creatures. Why? So that He could die on the cross for our sin. It was the only way that our sin could be wiped out. It wasn’t best for Jesus to die that way; but it was best for us. Wow! Talk about thinking about what’s best for others at the expense of one’s own self – we Christians can’t help but see Jesus. And seeing Him this way, Paul’s encourages: “Think like Christ Jesus. Have the same thoughts and aims in mind that He had.”
Do you think that Jesus resented dying for us? Do you think He grumbled and complained and sobbed, “Father, why should I think about them first!”? The Bible says, “Who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Hb.12:2). It was Christ’s greatest happiness to think what was best for us eternally. Likewise, Christians are happy when they are thinking of what’s best for others.
Are you completely happy yet? A lot to think about, right? But when I’m united with Christ and you, when we are thinking and loving the same things in the Savior, when we are thinking what’s best for others as He did, then our joy will be complete. God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.