Sunday, May 17, 2020

“Make My Joy Complete” [Matt's Messages]

“Make My Joy Complete”
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
May 17, 2020 :: Philippians 2:1-4

This video message is intended to be viewed as part of Worship at Home for Lanse Free Church the weekend of Sunday May 17, 2020. I hope the guides we’ve been providing for Worship at Home have been helpful to your family during this difficult time when we have been apart.

I also hope that we can begin some in-person worship gatherings again soon. We are praying about that and making plans. Please continue to pray about that, too, especially for wisdom from heaven.

In the meantime, and as long as we are transitioning, here we are on video looking at Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

We’ve seen in the first chapter that Paul talks a lot to the Philippians about joy.

He always prays with joy.
He rejoices because Christ is being preached.
And he will continue to rejoice no matter what. Because he cannot lose.

And yet, in today’s little paragraph, Paul makes it very clear that his joy is not yet full.

Something is keeping Paul from fully experiencing complete joy.

Now, that’s kind of a surprise because Paul has been waxing eloquent about how joyful he is even in the face of death!

So what could be diminishing Paul’s joy?

In the previous paragraph, Paul asked the Philippians that whatever happened, they would stand firm and stand together for the gospel. And we got a little bit of whiff that Paul knows that there are problems back at Philippi.

Internal problems.

They had external problems, too. They were experiencing persecution. So they had to stand firm.

But Paul also had to remind them to stand together. “Contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.”

Apparently, the Philippians were struggling to get along with one another. There was some infighting. Some division. We don’t know the details, but it’s clear that they were struggling with one another.

And that was a drag on Paul’s joy.

I love that! Paul could not have complete and full joy while he knew that his beloved church friends were still fighting with one another.

So in today’s paragraph, Paul asks the Philippians to “Make His Joy Complete” by fixing the problems they had with one another.

But he doesn’t start there with the practical problem. He starts further back in verse 1.

He starts with the benefits and blessings of being united to Christ.

The benefits and blessings of being united to Christ.

Look again at verse 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, then make my joy complete...”

Do you hear the if/then logic in there?

It’s pretty hard to miss. Especially when I punch it when I read it. If, if, if, if.

By the way verses 1 through 4 are one long sentence in the original Greek!

And it’s just like this: if, if, if, if...then.

We’re all familiar with this kind of logic.

If you clean your room, then you can go to the ball game. (If there was one.)
If you say that one more time, then I’m out of here.
If the stock market continues this way, then we’re in big trouble.
If you finish your supper, then you can have dessert.

If the condition of the first part is met, then logically the second part should flow from it.

So, Paul says, if you have experienced all of these blessings of verse 1, then it only makes sense to make his joy complete and do the things in verses 2 through 4.

And (spoiler alert!) all real Christians have experienced the blessings of verse 1.

Because this is like a description of what it means to be a real Christian:

United with Christ.
Comforted by his love.
Fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
Experiencing God’s tenderness and compassion.

That’s what it means to be a Christian!

That’s how good it is to belong to Jesus Christ.

The suggested opening song for Worship at Home today was:

“What a Fellowship
What a Joy Divine
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

What a Blessedness
What a Peace Is Mine
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

Leaning on Jesus
Leaning on Jesus
Safe and Secure from All Alarms

Leaning on Jesus
Leaning on Jesus
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”

Do you have that?
Is that you?

Safe and secure from all alarms because you are united to Christ?

Do you have that encouragement in your soul?

I hope so!

If not, then I invite you to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior today and be united to Him by faith in His sacrificial death on the Cross.

He died to pay for our sins, and He came back to life to give us eternal life and the comfort of His tender and compassionate love through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

I invite you to turn from your sins and trust in Jesus today.

Paul says, “If you have all of that (and I know you do!), then here’s what logically follows.” Verse 2.

“...then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

I’m going to summarize it like this.


It would complete Paul’s joy and only make sense if these Christians (and by extension you and I) would think as one. Verse 2 again. “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

Now, I don’t think that Paul means that they all have to have all of the same thoughts about everything.

Billy Graham’s wife Ruth used to say something like “If you and your husband think the same exact thing about everything, one of you is not necessary!”

God has designed us all with our own brains and wants us to all think for ourselves. Which also means that we will come to different opinions about various things. But the most important things, we need to think the same on. And we need to be striving towards unity always.

Verse 2 is, I think, mostly about an attitude. A heart attitude of oneness. That’s why he uses words “like-minded” and “love” and “spirit” and “purpose.” There needs to be a desire for unity, especially around our shared mission.

We should have the same love.
The same love for God.
The same love for the lost.

We should have the same spirit and same purpose, the same gospel mission.

Or as we say it around here, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing; and main thing is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do you see the logic?If you have been blessed by the gospel, then you need to be united in sharing the gospel with those who most need to hear it. And secondary matters on which you differ should stay second matters!

Now, there are probably lots of ways to apply that to our lives today, and I’m sure you can think of some. The one that jumps to my mind right now (because of right now!) is the WHEN and HOW of gathering again in our church building together. We probably have many different opinions about WHEN and HOW to do that. And we’ve asked you to share your thoughts for your family in a survey that went out this weekend.

But whatever our own thoughts are on that question, what is really important is that we focus on loving each other and staying on mission together no matter what.

We need to think as one about Jesus and about the gospel and about sharing the gospel of Jesus with the world.

What I love about our church family is that I know that we will do just that! This is a church centered on the gospel. So my joy can be complete!

We will think as one.

Not that we’ll do it perfectly! And not that this comes easily.

It certainly doesn’t come naturally. When unity comes, it’s a super-natural thing.

That’s where Paul goes next. Here’s how to get to thinking as one. Verse 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’m going to summarize that by saying:


It would complete Paul’s joy and only make sense if these Christians would think of others ahead of themselves. And, of course, it’s true for us today, as well.

We need to think of others ahead of ourselves.

It starts by getting over ourselves.

That’s why verse 3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”

That’s thinking only of yourself.

That’s how we naturally are. “What it’s in it for me, me, me, me?” That’s selfish ambition.

And vain conceit is, “I deserve it. I need it. I’m worth it.” An inflated sense of self-importance.

We operate this way all of the time. It’s the default mode of our hearts, but the Bible says that we need to change our default mode. “Do NOTHING out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but IN HUMILITY consider others better than yourself.”

Now, this does not mean some kind of a self-loathing: “Oh, I hate myself!” That’s just another kind of pride and vain conceit! Humility isn’t a false-kind of modesty that puts yourself down all the time.

Humility is not a focus on yourself at all! It’s a focus on others outside of yourself.

" humility consider others better than yourselves.”

The English Standard Version says, “as more significant than.”

The Christian Standard Bible says, “as more important than”

The 2011 NIV says, “value others above yourselves.”

And then Paul explains exactly what that means in verse 4.

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests [that’s not wrong or bad, we all need to do that], but also to the interests of others.”

Think of others. And think of others first.

Now, there are so many ways that we could apply that, and we need to in every area of our lives.

Because this is how Christians are supposed to live.

If we have the blessings of union with Christ, then we need to think of others ahead of ourselves.

And we need to start with those closest to us.

Ask yourself who are you putting first in all of your relationships:

If you are a dad, does the family revolve around you and your will?

If you are a mom, is it your way or the highway?
If you are brother or a sister, do put your siblings’ interests ahead of your own?
If you are single are you focused only on your dreams and ambitions?
If you are a boss at work? If you are an employee at work? Who are you looking out for?
Drivers, who is #1 on the road? “Consider others better than yourselves.”

Do you see how this is a radical way of living? If we start doing this, then the gospel that we proclaim will get hearing!

Thinking of others first is in basic contradiction to this world’s value system, but it is the foundation of the value system of the kingdom to come. “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.”

Put yourself last. Put yourself second.

I think that this COVID-19 world-wide health crisis is perfect opportunity for Christians to practice this.

For example, what I understand about these masks is that, for the most part, these face-masks that we are being asked to wear when interacting with people in society are not primarily worn to protect ourselves.

We are being asked to wear them, primarily, in case we have contracted the virus and don’t know it to protect those whom we are interacting with.

The Bible says that love is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:5).

That is that we “should look not only to [our] own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

That’s hard to do. I know it. I am, by nature, a very selfish person.

It’s easy to see me. It’s easy to look to my own interests.

But I have been united to Christ; I have been comforted by His love; I have fellowship with the Spirit; I have experienced God’s tenderness and compassion.

So by God’s grace, I can look to the interests of others.

And Jesus has shown us the way.  Jesus has gone before us and shown us how it’s done. Lord-willing, we’ll see that next time in verses 5 through 11.

But for now, it’s enough to just say, “It is possible. We can do this. By God’s grace.”

We can think as one. One in spirit and in purpose.
And we can think of others and put them ahead of ourselves.
And then think how our joy will be complete!


Previous Messages in This Series:
01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"