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Sunday, November 08, 2015

[Matt's Messages] "Your Attitude at Work"

“Your Attitude at Work”
Working for the Lord - Fall 2015
November 8, 2015 :: Philippians 2:1-30 

Our current sermon series is called “Working for the Lord,” and it’s about what people do all day. Our callings, our careers, our jobs, our work.

We’ve learned about diligence and laziness, and witnessing on the job, and balancing work and rest, and discerning our callings, and the effects of the curse, and why we work, and last week was about prayer at work.

And every week has been about reminding ourselves whom we work for. We are working for the Lord. “It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

And today I want for us to think together about how that affects our attitude at work.

Today’s sermon title is: “Your Attitude at Work”

What should be a Christians’ attitude when we are working?

If Jesus is my true boss, what should be my attitude when I’m doing my job?

And by attitude, I mean, not so much your mood but your mindset.

We can’t always change our moods, but we can and should choose and change our perspectives, our mental postures, our mindsets.

How we think and then act on the job.

So, we’ll ask the question about our last week:

What has been your attitude at work this last week?

Isn’t it great how directly applicable each of these messages has been in this series?

We get the lecture on Sunday and then immediately the lab on Monday through Friday.

What has been your attitude at work this last week?

No matter who you are, no matter what your job is (butcher, baker, candlestick maker, retired person or second grader) what has been your attitude about and at your work this last week?

Was this you this week?

“Whistle while you work!”

Or was this you?

Good old. “Grumpy.”

Or something in between? Or both at some point or another?

I think I was this one or this one this week. "Sleepy" or "Dopey." I was just run ragged this week and felt like I was all dopey and running through a fog.

What has been your attitude at work this last week?

This is challenging, isn’t it?

What kind of an attitude, what kind of mind-set, should a Christian working worshiper  have?

Philippians chapter 2.

We’re going to read the whole chapter this morning, in the course of this message, and there is so much here that we are not going to get a chance to talk about.

The last time I preached through Philippians, I took four weeks to do this one chapter, and today we’re going to do the whole thing in one message. So, we’re going to focus in on just a few big details.

The apostle Paul is writing to the Philippian church from prison.  He cannot be with them right now though he longs for them with all of his guts.  He wants to help the Philippian church deal with the problems that they are now experiencing.

The Philippian church is experiencing opposition to the gospel on the outside of the church and some strife among leaders on the inside of the church. Opposition to the gospel on the outside and interpersonal wrangling on the inside. In chapter 1, Paul told the Philippians that they need to fearlessly fight together for the faith of the gospel, presenting a united front against the opposition on the outside.

And now in chapter 2, he turns to emphasize what needs to happen on the inside of the church. How these Christians should lovingly relate to one another.

So the first application of these words is to our relationships within the church, but I’m also sure that they relate to our attitude on the job, as well.

What should be our attitude at work?

#1. CHRISTLIKE HUMILITY AND SERVANTHOOD.

Verse 5 says it all, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

Yes, Jesus is your true boss, but He is also your true example of how to be a worker.

You and I should get our clues of how to adjust our attitudes by looking at the example of Jesus Christ.

But before we get to verse 5, Paul starts the chapter with an appeal to the Christians a Philippi to be loving and unified.  And he does it by reminding them of the blessings of being a Christian.

Did you catch those if/then statements?

V.1 “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...”

Do you have those things?

Oh yes. All Christians do! It’s not really asking if they have them but saying that since they have those things then (verse 2), “make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

Paul is saying that if you have the blessings, the benefits of the gospel, then the proper response of your life is to be loving to other Christians.

And that love looks like humility and servanthood. V.3

“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.”

If we all did that, how might that revolutionize our work?

Now, again, the first application is to the church. Only Christians can be truly like-minded and have the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

But those Christians also go to work in the rest of the world and verse 4 applies to all of us there, as well.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”

Don’t show up for work out of selfish ambition.
Ambition is not wrong but if it’s all self-centered it will be wrong.

And vain conceit is thinking that everything is about you.

Unflattering selfie while preaching this message.
Is your work-life all about you?

We live in a selfie-culture where the subject of more pictures than ever before is ourselves.

It used to be that you took pictures of other people and other things.

But now our culture is obsessed with taking pictures of ourselves.

Is it wrong to take a picture of yourself. No. But what does it say about our society when that’s the main thing that many people are photographing?

We live in a selfie-culture at work, as well. We are always looking out for number one.

Not just climbing the ladder but pushing people off of it to climb faster.

That’s the way of the world but it should not be our attitude. V.3

“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.”

I guess we call that being a team player, but that doesn’t sound as powerful as verse 4 does.

Everybody looks out for their own interests. That’s not wrong. But a Christ-follower looks out for other people’s interests, as well.

And that could be your co-workers. Are you doing what is in the best interest of your co-workers each day?
Or it could be your customers. Are you trying to pull a fast one on them? “Let the buyer beware!”
Or it could be your employer. Are you looking out, not only for what works for you but what would be best for them?
Or it could be your employees. Are you regularly doing what is best for them, not just for you?

Do you see how revolutionary this attitude is?

Does the world work like that?

Not normally.

But because WE have the benefits of verse 1 we can act differently than the world.

We can be humble because we are loved.

Humility considers others better than (or more important than) yourself.

Not better in worth.  But better in care.  In attention.  In service.  Better in importance.

It means putting other people first.

This principle is in basic contradiction to our world’s value system but it is the foundation of value system of the kingdom to come.  The last shall be first and the first shall be last.  What does it profit a man if he gains the world but lose his soul?

Self-denial. And looking out for others’ interests.

What could you change in your work flow this week to make sure that you are living out verse 4?

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Now, that does not necessarily mean that you do your co-workers’ work for them if they are slackers.

And it doesn’t mean that you do everything you are asked to do at work, especially if it’s too much.

But it does mean that you are generous and want what’s best for everybody, not just yourself in your situation. Does that make sense?

Because we have the benefits of the gospel, we can go to work with an attitude of humility and servanthood.

And our Lord Jesus showed us how. V.5 again.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”

Again, attitude here means “mindset.” The 2011 NIV renders verse 5 as, “In your relationship with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

The same outlook. The same perspective. The same mental posture.

This is what you think. You think, “I’m going to be a servant.”

That’s what Jesus did. Verse 6.

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped [He was fully God in every way but out of His humility, He didn’t hold onto the privileges of deity but emptied Himself (v.7),] but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

At Blair’s memorial service we talked about this.

Jesus did not come to be served but to serve.

And that’s the true measure of greatness. Not status, stuff, or success, however defined, but servanthood.

Jesus lowered Himself to became one of us and then took the lowest place ever. V.8

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself [further!] and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!”

And God rewards that. V.9

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We love verses 9-11, but Jesus had to go through verses 6-8 to get there.

And we need to follow His lead.

You could call this “downward mobility.”  Or just servanthood.

Christlike servanthood.

Jesus showed us how.

Is this your attitude at work? Are you on the hunt for those who you could serve?

I think that our administrative assistant here in our church office a great example of someone who follows Jesus’ model of humility and servanthood.

She always goes above and beyond to make sure that everyone is served.

Not just in the details but caring for the hearts.

I’m thankful for Marilynn Kristofits’ “administry.”

How about you?

Do you have servant-attitude or a “selfie-attitude?”

Only one of those leads to glory and reward.

Jesus was rewarded with the highest glory because He took the lowest place.

Those folks at work that are seeking their own vain glory, they might get ahead in the short run, but the fallout in the end will be spectacular (Ps 73).  Read Psalm 73 some time to see what will happen to those who are filled with self-ambition and pride.

Those of us who are united to Christ can humble ourselves like him and serve others around us in love.

Now in verse 12, Paul begins to apply this gospel further.  He starts with a “therefore.”

“Therefore, my dear friends [in Philippi], as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

So much I could say about that but don’t have time today.

Notice that we work OUT our salvation. We don’t work for it.

We live out the implications of our salvation with fear and trembling. With worship and awe that we are loved by a holy God and who gave His Son for us.

And we work out our salvation BECAUSE God is at work in our hearts on our wills.

We work because God is at work. There’s a lot to ponder there.

But I really want to get to verse 14 because there’s the attitude.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”

#2. CHRISTLIKE CONTENTMENT AND THANKSGIVING.

Just think what would happen if we lived out verse 14 consistently.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing...”

Now, before you think about godly ways to complain (which there are some, read the psalms) or arguments that need to be made (which there are some, the Bible includes them, too)... but before you go there and qualify these statements, just agree that the world would be such a better place without complaining and arguing.

Amen?

These sins of grumbling are major problems for us in our wealthy consumeristic Western culture. Americans love to complain.

And after politics, work is probably the thing we love to complain about the most.

But grumbling is rotten to the core.

It is unholy discontentment with the way things are in God’s world.

Grumbling is complaining about how God is doing at ruling His own world.

Do you see how sinful that is?

My friend Ronnie Martin has just come out with a new book called Stop Your Complaining: From Grumbling to Gratitude.  Ronnie is the planting pastor of the church that Jeff Powell is a part of in Ashland, Ohio. And Ronnie is now serving as a volunteer church planting director for our district.

What I really like about Ronnie’s book is that he shows just how atrocious an attitude of complaining is for those who belong to Jesus.

If we have the things in verse 1, how could we get stuck in verse 14?

I highly recommend this book, especially during this season of Thanksgiving when for a whole month we say, “Jesus, Thank You.”

I have a copy you could borrow and the church library has one, too.

It’s kind of fun because this is the second book that I’ve gotten to endorse as an published author. It’s published by CLC my publisher, as well, and they asked me to say a word about it.

I said, “I didn't want to read this book because I knew that I needed to read it, but I'm glad I did. With both keen insight and dry wit, my friend Ronnie explores our all-too-common sinful tendency to grumble and offers grace-laced answers to our problem. You may not want to read Stop Your Complaining either, but you'll be glad you did.”

Now, I say this is the second book I got to endorse. The first one was Loving My Children by Katie Faris.

She also does a wonderful job of reminding us of what we have in Jesus so that we don’t complain about our day job, even if our day job includes cleaning up preschooler’s vomit.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing...”

King James, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings...”

English Standard, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”

Again, the first application of these words is towards the church. Do everything you do within the church family without grumbling about each other or picking fights.

But it also applies to our attitude at work.

Do you job without grumbling.

How do you do that?

Develop an attitude of gratitude, right?

Be thankful for what you have.

In Christ, you have everything and that should make all of the difference.

This does not meant that we never point out what is wrong at work.

It’s not turning a blind eye to problems or not trying to be a problem-solver.

But is not making the problems the focus of your heart.

And letting that spill over into bitter complaint that does nothing to help the people around you.

If you and the other Christians at your workplace stopped your griping and grumbling, would you stand out?

Paul says in verse 15 that we would stand out like stars in the universe!

We’ve had some beautiful starry nights recently, haven’t we?

Do you go out and look at that vast expanse and what stands out? The stars, right?

Paul says that if we purify ourselves of discontentment and grumbling we will stand out and people will want to know what’s different about us.

Like Ken Shimmel in Dan Kerlin’s story a few weeks ago.

He was whistling while he worked!

How could he do that? Because He was content with His true Boss.

If you know that Jesus is your Lord then you can be happy on the job.

Not happy about everything that happens there but happy in spite of everything that happens there.

And that’s going to give you opportunities to share the gospel. V.16

“...as you hold out the word of life...”

I think that for many of you, your strategy for talking about Jesus should be to not talk about Jesus until people say, “What is different about you? How can you be content and thankful at a time like this?”

“Why don’t you whine like the rest of us?”

Whining is the great American past-time.

Why don’t you do that? “Well, let me tell you about my Lord.”

Paul was staking his ministry on this.  He was counting on these Philippian believers to be so changed by the gospel that they would cut out their complaining and arguing. He was sure of it.  V.16

“...as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. [It was worth it.] But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Paul saw his work as worship!

And he thought he might be dying for the gospel at this time.

But he believed that the gospel was powerful enough to transform believers, to give them a new perspective, a new attitude and mindset for their lives.

Christlike contentment and thanksgiving is what it looks like to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

How are you doing that? What needs to change in your attitude at work so that others see you as full of contentment and thanksgiving?

Paul ends this chapter with two examples of guys who lived out what he was preaching. Timothy and Epaphroditus. V.19

“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. [Does that sound familiar? Sounds like verse 4.] But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.”

Timothy had that servant attitude that Paul wants us all to have. V.25

“But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.”

Ephaphroditus had that servant attitude as well and probably that of contentment and thanksgiving. He was able to risk it all and think about others more highly than himself.

He was concerned about the Philippians even though it was he who had been sick.

Who is an example in your life that lives out these attitudes in their work?

Everybody knows somebody who just lives this out.

I think of Blair Murray. It’s no secret that we’re all grieving him still.

Blair was a servant. He had this attitude.  He was full of contentment and thanksgiving. And he put others first.

It’s right for us to remember that and to honor him. I love that about verse 29.  It calls upon us to honor people in the areas where they deserve it.

When people we know live out these principles, we should show them honor.

Today, I’d like to have all of those who serve in protective capacities to stand and be recognized.

We already had our veterans stand. They stood in harm’s way to protect us.

But on top of that I want to have all of those in corrections to stand. If you work is or was being a corrections officer or you work in the prisons or the boot camp. Or if you are a police-officer. Or a security guard. If Jeremy were here today, we’d have our police-academy cadet.

If your job is to protect people, I’d like to stand and be recognized and be honored.

Thank you!  We celebrate you today because I think your jobs might some of the hardest in the world to maintain a good attitude about.

Because you are constantly receiving negativity. So much is against you.

I can get to complaining about my life, but there is a whole month dedicated to pastor appreciation!

I don’t think there is a whole month when everyone tells people working in protective ministries what a great job they are doing!

Thank you for doing what is often thankless.

And for doing it, if you are a Christian, with a servant attitude.

With an attitude that says, “I am doing this for Jesus.”

And I am looking out for others not just for myself.

I think this area of attitude is a hard one for us.  Most of us can get some kind of a rhythm going between work and rest. Most of us do some praying for our jobs. Most of us want to witness at work.

But it’s hard to maintain a good attitude at work.

It is. It is difficult.

But it’s the right and righteous thing to do.

And it brings God the most glory.

And Jesus showed us how.


***

Messages in this Series

01. Working for the Lord
02. Is Work - Good Or Bad?
03. Why Work?
04. Working at Witnessing
05. Get to Work!
06. Work and Rest
07. Called to Work
08. Prayer at Work
09. Your Attitude at Work

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