Making Ourselves Available | Philippians Week 12 | Dr. Chip Bennett
Well, we are coming to the end of the book of Philippians. Everybody’s just like, “Okay. Whatever.” Well, let me tell you how I feel about it. I’m always sad when we end a series like this because I really love the Word of God, I love teaching it, and I love seeing people have moments in the text where they go, “Oh my goodness. I didn’t realize that.”
So, it’s always a little bit of a sad time, but I hope and I pray that when we go through these books like this, you have a little bit more of an appetite to want to read God’s Word. I hope that it gets you a little bit more fired up. If it doesn’t, don’t tell me afterwards, but I hope so. So, we’re going to finish it out, but before we do, I thought I’d give you something to maybe think about as you continue to read. And I hope you’ll go back and read Philippians. I hope you’ll continue to read through the New Testament. I pray that you’ll read the Old Testament.
But a couple things that I felt like I should do before we get into the last part of the text is when you’re reading the New Testament, and especially when you’re reading Paul — so, if you have gone through Philippians and you’re like, “You know, I think I want to read Colossians. I think I want to read Galatians. I think I want to read Thessalonians, Timothy, or Titus.” You just feel like you want to. Or Corinthians. Whatever it may be, you feel like you just really want to get into God’s Word, if you’re going to just sort of read Paul. And these themes are in the other books of the New Testament, but they’re specifically in Paul. I thought I’d give you a little bit of a cheat sheet, here, that you could take with you, just your own study. Many of you all have phones and stuff, so you can go back and grab that slide from a video, or whatever.
But when we read Paul in the New Testament, there are a couple things that I want to say to just put in your back pocket as you’re reading in the future. Paul uses temple imagery. This is profound stuff, too, because in Judaism, the temple was what everything was sort of built around. I mean, that’s where God’s presence was. That’s where the law was taught. That’s where sacrifices were made, sin was atoned for, and all of that stuff. It was right there. Of course, when Jesus comes, Jesus is reconstituting everything around Himself. So, when you read Paul, pay attention because he’s constantly taking temple imagery and applying it to people and to the Church. You know?
Like, in the book of Corinthians, he says that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Like, what does that mean? The temple used to be this building that God’s Spirit was in. Now we’re portable temples and God’s Spirit is within us. What? Wow. That’s profound. And you’ll see that he’ll make comments, like, “We give our bodies as a living sacrifice,” in Romans 12. And you’re like, “What?”
So, he’s using this temple imagery, and everything is being reconstituted into the people of God who are in Christ. That’s powerful stuff. It actually helps you to understand a lot of what’s going on in the New Testament, and how God is reorganizing things and building His people. Even Peter catches that in his first epistle. He says that we’re living stones. We’re being built upon. And Paul says, in Ephesians 4, we’re being built into a building that’s fitting to the Lord. It’s powerful stuff, and it has so much theological implication. So, pay attention to that. Also, Paul’s really big on character. When you read Paul, you’ll see that Paul believes that when we meet Jesus, there really is a change that happens in our lives. It is a significant moment.
I love, in Ephesians 4, when he talks about the person who used to steal, who would use their hands to steal things. He says, “Let him who stole steal no more, but let him use his hands to work so that he can give to others.”
Like, this redemption of these hands that used to do this. Now these hands do this. There’s all kinds of that going on in Paul. Pay attention to that. It’s significant for all of us because God does want to make significant changes in our lives. Then he is, also, always talking about things from an upside-down perspective. You’ll read Paul and he’ll be like, “You know what? You want to see God’s strength? Be weak.”
And you go, “Whoa. What did you just do there? God’s strength shines in our weakness? That doesn’t make any sense.”
And you’ll read this as you go through Paul. So, pay attention to these things as you continue to read through the New Testament. Just pay attention to that imagery because I think it will be profound for you. Just a little bit of Bible study tools that I thought should throw out here before I got going just because I really do — of all the things I want, I want us to do all the outreaches that we do, I want us to love on people and all of that stuff, but I also want us to be a church where the people who go to Grace are rooted and grounded into God’s Word, and that we’re people who know God’s Word. I guess, maybe, it’s selfish. I don’t know, but I want to be the pastor of a church that people in town go, “Yeah, man. If you want to talk about the Bible, go talk to somebody who goes to Grace because those people study the Bible.”
That’s what I would love to know.
“They love Jesus, and they study the Bible. They’re crazy. They’ve got a guy from Kentucky that drinks Mountain Dew.”
I was actually in Publix, today, and a person looked at me and said, “Pastor Chip.”
I’m like, “Hey.”
I looked and I had Mountain Dew and Cheetos. They said, “It’s real?”
I was like, “It’s real.”
Anyway, total aside. Let’s get into the book of Philippians here. You know, it’s interesting how we do this. Maybe you’re not like me. Maybe you are. Maybe you can understand where I’m coming from. It seems like when we get to the end of a book, or to the end of anything, we just want to get done. Like, “Check. I’m done.”
But sometimes, at the very, very end of the book, there are powerful things that we can miss if we don’t still slow down and pay attention. So, it’s easy, as you sort of get to the end of the epistles, especially because you know you now have read it — like, you can go, “I read it. I got through it.”
But there’s so much stuff here, at the end. I could’ve spent, probably, the next four weeks on this, but we’ll get through it, and I think it’ll be beneficial for all of us. So, last week, we came out of Philippians 4:13. That’s where we ended.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
We talked about the fact that Paul had been thanking the Philippians for the gift that they had given to him, but he wanted to make sure that he communicated in a way where he thanked them, but that he didn’t create a little too much of a tie to them because, in the first century, that was a sort of difficult thing. There was a lot of reciprocity excepted in the first century. So, he’s thanking them, but he’s also making sure that they understand that God supplies his needs and all of this stuff. So, we’re going to pick up in Philippians 4:14 here, and we’re going to see that he is still talking about these ideas, but it’s really some cool stuff. I think we’ll enjoy this.
He says, “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.”
“Listen, I want to thank you. I mean, I’ve told you I can do all things. I’ve learned the secret. God really is the one who ultimately gives me everything, but I want to take a moment and say it was kind of you to share in my troubles.”
The word “share” is a compound word, but its root is “koinonia,” “to fellowship,” “to share.” He says, “It was kind of you to share my trouble. Like, you didn’t have to do that, but you did. It was kind of you.”
This word “trouble” is “thlipsis” in Greek. Not that you need to know that, but it’s important because it’s only used two times in this book. This is something to think about. It’s just some cool stuff. As we go through Scripture, you’ll see how this stuff really does work out. So, it’s used, first, in Philippians 1:17. Now, the ESV translates it “afflict” and “trouble.” Two different translations. But the word is the same word. Only two times is it used, and it’s used at the beginning of the book and at the ending of the book. That’s not just by accident. When you read the New Testament, you’ll find that out. Like in Luke, they start with Zechariah praying in the temple. It ends with the disciples praying in the temple.
The book of Romans starts off and it says He’s going to bring obedience of faith to the nations. And in Romans 16, at the end, He’s going to still bring obedience of faith to the nations. Like, they know their geography. They know how things work. They even know the center of the book. When you read John, you read the Gospel of John, what’s the center of the book of John? It’s that the ruler of this world has been cast out. What’s the center of John’s revelation that he wrote? Well, it’s the great dragon is kicked out of heaven. What’s the center of 1 John 3:8? 1 John 3:8 is the center of 1 John, that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. This is not coincidence. These people know what they’re doing. The Bible is just awesome. If I could get you all to just go, “Man, this book is cool,” that’s what I want. I want to get a bunch of people that just can’t wait to get home and turn off the TV because they want to read the Bible.
So, anyway, a couple people like that. That’s good. Everybody else is going, “I like my TV.” But that’s okay. The name of our church is Grace. It’s not Judgment Community Church. It’s Grace, so we’ve got grace here.
Anyway, what’s really interesting here is he starts off by saying that the people who are not really doing Jesus the right way are creating trouble for Paul, but the Philippians are sharing in the trouble of Paul. And of course, there are 104 verses. If you go right to the center, 52, you’ll find that we meet Timothy, who shares in the Gospel with Paul, and Timothy is the one person he’s got who is genuinely concerned about others. What he’s saying here is, “Do you want to know what really people who are Christians look like? They’ve got the mind of Christ. They genuinely look out for other people. They genuinely care for other people.”
And he’s written this in a way that first century readers probably would’ve completely understood. We don’t read that way, we don’t think in those concepts, but these books are put together with purpose and meaning. He’s telling us that real, genuine followers of Jesus are people that are others oriented. They genuinely will help others. He goes, “Listen, thank you for sharing in my trouble. Not creating more trouble for me but sharing in my trouble.”
And he tells them, “You guys were there with me in the beginning. I mean, even when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you. Thanks. You guys really have been good to me.”
He says, “Even in Thessalonica you sent help for my needs once and again.”
He’s like, “I really appreciate that. This is what it really looks like to be followers of Jesus. We care for others.”
Then, of course, so he doesn’t miss communicate, and so he doesn’t elevate them to a place that’s beyond where they need to be elevated, because he wants to thank them, he reminds them of this.
He says, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”
He says, “Look, you don’t understand. What you all have done for me is like what Jesus would do. You’ve shared in my trouble. You’ve been there for me. I appreciate that. Like, I really, genuinely appreciate that, but I want you to understand something about the Kingdom of God because it’s really upside-down. It’s different. It’s not that I seek the gift. Like, most people in prison would want a gift. They’d want help because if they didn’t get help, they wouldn’t eat. Like, it’s important that you did this. I’m not diminishing how important your generosity and giving was because it was incredible, and you guys have been so good to me. But I want you to know something. I don’t really seek the gift. I’m appreciative of the gift. The gift that you have given has enabled me to do many things while I’m in prison. You’ve enabled me not only to eat, but I’ve been able to get paper and hire an amanuensis to write letters. Like, thank you. The Gospel has been helped because of your generosity, but it’s not that I seek the gift. When we talk about generosity, it’s not that I’m looking for something from you.
“But I want to make sure that you understand I’m not seeking the gift. What it is that I really seek is I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”
In other words, “I understand how God works. It’s sort of backwards because it’s really more blessed to give than it is to receive. And I understand when you give, I’m not seeking that, but I so want that for you because when you give, when you’re generous, when you’re kind, and when you’re loving, there’s fruit that increases to your credit. I want that for you,” Paul says to the Philippians. “I want you to understand that, man, I am so thankful, and I’m so glad that you’re sharing in my trouble, and I’m so glad that you’re generous, but it’s not because I’m looking for what I can get. It’s because I know what God does in people who are generous. I know what God does in the lives of the people that are kind.”
And he says, “Hey, I’ve received full payment, and more. It’s good. Like, what you did is good. I am so thankful, and I’m well-supplied.”
He said, “I have received from Epaphroditus,” — which we’ve talked about in this epistle. This is the guy who, in Philippians 2, almost died for the cause of Christ. He says, “I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, and I want to make sure that I thank you.”
I told you at the very beginning, in the very first sermon we did on this, that Paul’s got to respond to a gift that has been given from a guy named Epaphroditus while he’s in prison. He knows he has to thank them, and he’s doing it here. This is where he does it, at the very end. He says, “The gifts that you sent, they’re a fragrant offering, and a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
Here’s that temple imagery that Paul uses. He’s like, “It’s not like it used to be, where you offered these sacrifices in this building. It’s like now, when we do things, they’re gifts, they’re sacrifices, but they’re not animals and that stuff. But they’re pleasing to God. It’s a fragrant offering when God’s people are kind, and when they do what they do.”
He says, “Here’s what I want you to know because this is really the fruit that I seek for your credit. When you’re living a life of giving, generosity, kindness, putting others before each other, and you’re living out the mind of Christ, my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
What a — wow. What a promise.
“My God will supply every need of yours. I’m confident in this. God’s a God that takes care of stuff. You guys are doing it His way. You’re loving on people. You’re being generous. God’s going to take care of you.”
But this is what’s interesting here. He says, “According to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Not out of them. “Ek” would’ve been the Greek word. It’s “kata.” According. In other words, God gets to choose, out of all of His riches in glory, how He wants to supply your needs. In other words, He’s not like a slot machine that you give, and He does back whatever. Paul’s saying that when we’re living the mind of Christ, when we’re sharing in other people’s troubles, when we’re living a life of generosity, what we can be sure of is that God, according to His riches in glory, according to His plan, according to His will, according to His direction, will take care of us in the ways that we need to be taken care of. And oftentimes, we don’t even know what that looks like, but Paul says, “You can be promised of this, that He’ll do that.”
And then he just finishes out and says some really cool stuff.
He says, “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Whenever Paul has a moment where he’s like, “Man, God is so good,” he just stops and prays. He’ll just do it in all of his epistles. He’ll just stop. You know? There was the song, “Stop, in the name of love.” Paul would just say, “Stop, let’s pray.”
You know? That’s what he would do. He would just stop and pray.
“To our God and Father be glory forever and ever.”
“Man, God’s so good. He’ll take care of your needs. Man, He is just so good. To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
I mean, he just has a moment that he catches himself, like as a prayer break. Have you ever had that in your life, where you’re just doing something, and you just have to stop for a moment and pray? You’re not weird like me? That’s okay. In the car, sometimes, I just stop and pray. Sometimes I’m just walking through the church, and I just stop and say, “God, we really need You. Lead and guide us.”
I don’t know what people think I’m doing when they see me. They’re like, “What’s wrong with that guy?”
But he just stops and has a prayer break here. He says, “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Then he says, “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.”
Man, that might be something we could learn. How about instead of being nasty to saints that we don’t like, how about we greet every saint in Christ Jesus? Right?
He says, “The brothers who are with me greet you.”
He’s got people there, around him in prison. He says, “They say greetings you.”
Then he says, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.”
This is great. This is one of those nuggets that if you don’t read to the end and don’t pay attention to the end, you miss. So, if this is Paul in Rome — which we don’t know where he’s at in prison, but this is probably somewhere near Nero’s time. Now, if you know anything about Nero, he was not a very good guy. Tell your neighbor. Nero was just not a very good guy. He wasn’t. He was the guy that if he wanted to remodel a portion of Rome, he’d burn it down. When he realized the Romans didn’t like it, he blamed the Christians. Then there was persecution. What Nero would like to do when he had dinner at night is he would go have Christians, he would crucify them, put kerosene on the wood, light it, and they would burn while they were crucifying so he could have a candlelight dinner. This guy was not a nice guy.
Paul says, “Hey, there are some people in Caesar’s household, probably slaves, but they’re believers too.”
What’s so important about this is — let me tell you something. You may. Not think God’s working in places because you don’t see Him working, but can I tell you something? God’s working in every area, whether you see Him or not. Okay? It’s just great here because even in Caesar’s household, they can’t get away from the overwhelming love of God. He’s always everywhere.
“But that guy’s a…”
It doesn’t make a difference. God’s at work. I just love these little nuggets that are there, that we just read over and go, “Oh, I don’t even know why he wrote that.”
No. It’s powerful. But you didn’t know Philippians 4:22 was like, “Wow. That’s really cool.”
Then he says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
Interesting phrase. I’ll come back to that in just a second. So, we’ve read through Philippians. We’ve read every line. We’ve commented. That’s two books, this year. Galatians and Philippians. I want to take two things for us to just take and chew on, and then I want to say one last thing, and we’ll sing a song.
But the first thing is this, and this is really important because I think this is a real big portion of this whole enterprise that we’ve just done. Sharing in others’ trouble is simply our call, as believers. When you read Matthew 25, it’s called the sheep and the goats. The only difference between the sheep and the goats is one of them shared in other people’s troubles, and the other didn’t. To be Christians is to be others focused. It’s to care about others. Like he says here: “It was kind of you to share my trouble.”
So often, we get so busy that we forget maybe one of the great calls of the church is to be involved in the people’s struggles. Can I tell you something? I’ve found this to be true, and I believe this to be true with all of my heart. If you meet people and you love on people long enough, at some point, they will have a tragedy. And can I tell you something? I’ve found that is the time, as a pastor, that people are more willing to have me pray for them, talk to them about God, and share Jesus with them than when life is just going normal. But the price of admission into the trouble is the love and the kindness that we show them when everything’s just okay. Sometimes it’s so important to make sure we realize that sharing in trouble is part of who we are. It’s who Jesus was. If we’re going to be like Jesus, we want to be like Him. We want to make sure. Sometimes we’re just busy. Sometimes we just don’t realize, “Hey, this is a big deal to be a church.”
That’s why we have a Care Team, here at Grace. It’s got multiple staff in it. It’s not just one person. It’s multiple. The reason is because we want to make sure that we share in people’s troubles. There’s no way one pastor can do that. There’s no way two pastors can do that. That’s why we have a Care Department, because we want to make sure that we are there. So, I want to give you a couple of quick things to just think about and process because I really believe fundamental Christianity is to be people that care about others and share in other people’s needs.
I’ll give you some things here. It’s not an exhaustive list, but some things, maybe, to chew on as followers of Jesus. First of all, we’ve got to be available. Let’s be honest. Most of us are on our phone all the time. I mean, somebody could be laying there with a leg off, and we would miss them. What’s up, lefty? You know? Or whatever. We just need to be available. We just need to be present to just be open to go, “God, could You? Is it possible that You could use me right here, right now, to share in this moment?”
Just be available. Be a safe place for people. You know, I say this all the time to staff, and I’ve said it publicly many times, as well. I don’t want our church to be weird. And that’s not because I’m trying to keep anything from happening. It’s not because I don’t believe God can do big things. I’m only telling you I want the church, our church, to be a safe place for somebody who walks in here, in trouble, in need, maybe burnt by religion, maybe hurt by church, at some point in their life. I don’t want them to walk in here and get weird. I want them to walk in here and feel safe — to feel safe. And I want us to be those people. Like, don’t be the people at work that everybody at work goes, “Yeah. They’re weird, man.”
No. As Christians, we’ve got to be the people that people go, “No. That, right there, is a good person. That’s a person who will be there for you when you need them. That’s a person of integrity. That’s a person who does it right every time. They’re the person who shows up a little bit early and leaves a little bit late. I mean, they are good people.”
We just need to make sure that we are a safe place for people. Third: Learn not to give unwanted advice. This just doesn’t help when people are going through difficulty. Okay? And can I say something? I think the church in America just needs to look here, right now, and see. We just need to learn to not give unwanted advice. It doesn’t help people that are going through difficulty for you just to let them know whatever it is that you think they ought to know. They probably, genuinely — in the love of the Lord, hear me. They don’t care. Okay? Because Howard Hendricks was right many, many years ago when he said, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
Okay? So, we’ve got to learn to not give unwanted advice. This next one is a subtopic of that, but it’s still true. It’s a little different, but it’s true. Support them, don’t problem solve. I’m preaching to myself here because this is something I’m not very good at. This is why I don’t counsel a lot of people, because they don’t like me. Because when they come in and sit down, I listen for about two minutes or so, then go, “Alright. Let me tell you here what you need to do. If you’ll go do this, right here, go do this, right here, and go do this, right here…”
It just doesn’t work very well. So, we need to learn to support and to listen. Don’t problem solve. And don’t enable. This is something, when we go to the other side, where we’re just lovey, lovey, lovey, lovey, lovey, and sometimes we can end up becoming enablers to people who are going through difficulty, and we don’t want to do that. We want them to learn how to have the skills, through the power of God, to get themselves out of the problem that they’re in. We don’t want to continue to enable them to live in the same situations.
But we’ve got to be people, as followers of Jesus, who are willing to get involved in the difficulties of life. And I want to be known as a church in this town. I don’t know if you know this or not, but this is a fact. Nobody calls in and says they’ve got a problem — and you don’t even have to go here. If they call in and they’ve got a marital problem, they’ve got a situation, or whatever, do you know what we’ll do? We will take care of their first five counseling appointments for them. Like, that’s what we do. Why do we do that? Because we want to be involved in changing people’s lives. We have great support systems, and great things that we do here. Things that maybe you don’t know, and maybe we don’t share as often as we should share. Some of you, probably, don’t even like that. You’re like, “I can’t believe they do that at the church. That’s a waste of whatever.”
Well, do you know what? I’m going to tell you something, as your pastor. I am going to go the extra mile for every single person because I believe that’s what Jesus would do. It’s what He did for me. And I want to be known as the place that, man, that’s a light, right there, in Lakewood Ranch. You’ve got trouble? You’ve got problems? Go to that place because they will help you out, in some way or some form. We’ve got to be known as the people that help. Don’t you agree?
Alright. I was about to think, “Well, this is my last weekend. They’re going to fire me.”
Alright. Second thing. This is important. This is so important that we get. Let’s be generous people who also understand biblical generosity. There are a lot of people who are generous but don’t understand biblical generosity. Now, if you’re not generous, that’s a whole other issue. And we should be generous people. I don’t think anybody would debate that Christians should be generous people. I don’t know anybody that would come in and say, “No. That’s not right. Jesus wants you to be a Scrooge.”
I don’t think anybody would say that. I think everybody knows Jesus would want us to be generous people. But we want to be generous people who understand biblical generosity. Biblical generosity. And we say this around here all the time. This is why we say what we say. He says, “I don’t see the gift, but I seek the fruit.”
That’s why you’ll hear us, quite frequently, here at Grace, say this: Generosity is not what God wants from us, but it’s what He wants for us. That’s why we say that. Like, we’re not seeking the gift. We just genuinely want people to give so that they learn how God can do that in their life. Now, listen, it is the 1st of August and I have not one time — in case this is your first time here, I have not one time, in the entire calendar year, so far, done a message, at all, on generosity. Not at all. In fact, I’m only going to spend the next two minutes on this. So, if you go, “Agh, no.”
Two minutes out of the whole year I have spent on this. Everything else has been everything else, so don’t act like all we talk about here is generosity and all of this stuff. But I’ve got to help here, as a pastor, because this is the passage. This is what the Bible is dealing with, and I want to deal with it. Okay? So, here’s what I want to show you, real quick. Inside the church and outside the church — because you should be, as Christians, generous in both places. You should be. If you’re not, it’s a great chance to learn to grow. Inside the church and outside the church, you have three areas that you can be generous in in your life. You can give your time, you can give your talent, and you can give your treasure. Those are the ways that we can be generous.
We can be generous by giving our time, saying, “Hey, do you know what? I’m going to greet. I’m going to drive a golf cart. I’m going to serve in children’s church.”
Whatever it may be.
“I’m going to give my talent. I’m a good teacher. I can make great coffee. I can drive a golf cart.”
Whatever it is.
“I’m going to give some of my talent and ability to the church. I’m also going to give it outside of the church. Then I’m also going to be generous with my finances because that’s what God wants us to do.”
So, these are the three ways that we can be generous. And I would like to encourage you to genuinely sit back and talk to God about how you can be generous both inside the church and outside of the church. Because I’ll tell you this. If you’re generous inside and outside of the church, you will find that God does things in your life that are just amazing. I mean, he just does. That’s why, if you walk around here, we’ve got these plaques out there. One of them says, “Engage In and Out.”
We believe that God wants people who are His children to be engaged, inside of the house and outside of the house, for the Kingdom of God. Here’s my last little thing I want to say about giving, and this is it. I want to come down here to this treasure thing because this is really important that we understand how this works. When we give treasure inside of the church, there are three things we can do. We can tithe, we can give offerings, and we can give alms. Tithing is 10%, offering is above 10%, and alms are given to the poor, to the destitute. Those are the three things in the New Testament that are talked about in areas of giving. And somebody goes, “Well, Jesus never said anything about tithing.”
He did in Matthew 23. He said, “You should tithe.” He says it to the Pharisees. So, that’s not a good argument for that. Okay? Tithe, offerings, and alms. Giving outside of the church is giving. We can be generous, and you should try to be all of these things. This is what we should all try to do. And I just want to mention one last thing here about this word “tithe.” When it’s used in the Bible, it says, “Bring the tithe to the storehouse.”
It doesn’t say, “Give the tithe to the storehouse.”
You can’t give a tithe. It’s God’s. You have to bring it. Some of you may not like to hear that, but that’s just what God’s Word says. He knows what He’s doing. He knows how He wants things to work.
The last point I want to make here is that tithing, offering, and alms inside of the church are of a greater necessarily than giving outside of the church because God’s Kingdom and God’s work is done through the local church, and He wants us to be people that give. And here’s the answer to all of this stuff. When we live a life of generosity, when we’re kind, when we’re good, when we serve, God will supply every need of yours, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
So, we should be generous people. We should share in people’s troubles. We should want to give. It should be who we are. Here’s my last point that I want to make. I want to end the series with this because this is so important. And hear me. Somebody needs to hear this. Never underestimate our need for grace.
He ends the epistle with, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
So many people’s spirits are broken. They’re crushed. What we need is we need God’s unmerited favor. I was praying on how to end this, and I wrote this down. I hope this is a blessing to you. It may not be a blessing to you, but I hope that it is. I know it was a blessing to me, when I wrote it. I just felt like, “Man, this is good.”
I hope this is good for you. Let me read it to you.
When we stop trying to earn our salvation, and learn to receive it, we move from having to please God in order for Him to love us, to wanting to please God because we already know the He does.
See, living a life of embracing the grace of God allows us to live a life that embraces others, has the mind of Jesus, is willing to put other people first, is willing to count all things as loss, is willing not to fight like Euodia and Syntyche, is willing to be generous and give. And when we live that life, do you know what we’re able to do? We’re able to rejoice. This is the whole thing here in the book of Philippians. A life of joy. See, as your pastor, I want you to have a life of joy. I know life is tough. I know life is so tough for so many people. But see, I believe God’s bigger than that. I believe that Paul’s right when he says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I believe that no matter what life throws our way, there’s a secret. When we have the mind of Christ, when we put Him first, when we follow what He wants us to do, it leads to a life of joy. We all want that. We all want to be able to rejoice. That is the word that is used more than any other word in this epistle. Rejoice. I want you, your family, your kids, and our church to be a place where we can rejoice. That doesn’t mean we don’t go through difficulties. That doesn’t mean there won’t be times of hurt and pain.
We’re not saying those things don’t exist. But as Christians, we have something that the world doesn’t have. We have God’s presence within us. We have His Church that we can rally with, and we can be people that live above all of the other things that get everybody down because we know the end of the book. And the end of the book is “Team Jesus wins,” and we are on Team Jesus. Not because of anything that we did, but because of His great love that He gave to you and I by sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross and raising again on the third day. And when we put our trust in that, we can know, as Paul told us at the very beginning of this book, that He is confident that He who has begun a good work in you and I will bring it to completion until the day of Jesus. And that allows us to rejoice.