Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Philippians 2:3-4 “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.”
Philippians 3:19-20 “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
One thing I know about the Christian life. . . It is supposed to be characterized by great joy. Christians should be the most joyful people on the planet because we are never without help and hope and our experience in eternity is going to be “off the hook!”
Jesus came that you might be able to experience salvation, but on top of that is the abundant life He wants you to have which includes deep joy. In John 15:11 Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Satan will steal anything he can from you, and your joy is often one of the first things he tries to take. If Satan can get you worried, upset, or focused on yourself he can sneak in while you are mentally distracted and take your joy. That’s why the Christian life has to be a thoughtful one. You can’t go on auto pilot and live as a successful Christian. You can’t live with an undisciplined mind and be victorious. You become a Christian by engaging your heart, but you are sustained as a Christian by engaging your mind. “You will never live a positive life with a negative attitude.” (Joyce Meyer, “Battlefield of the Mind.”) If your daily life is draining, defeating, difficult and depressing, perhaps you need to pay attention not to your circumstances or the people in your life, but to your mind.
Your mind needs to be set on things above (Col. 3:2). Your mind needs to be renewed (Romans 12:2). Your mind needs to be focused on the truth (John 8:32). In his commentary on the book of Philippians, Warren Wiersbe identifies a mindset for each of the four chapters which when adopted enables people to live with constant joy regardless of what is going on around them. I want to explore each of those four mindsets with you this morning, and as we do, ask yourself which of the four mindsets have you established and which do you need to work on developing in order to experience ongoing joy?
The first mindset is what Wiersbe called the SINGLE MIND-Joy over circumstances. Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” What a narrow, single, life slogan!
The single mind will keep us from becoming defeated by CIRCUMSTANCES. When Paul wrote this book he found himself in prison, chained to a Roman guard. Yet Paul was able to say, “It makes no difference what happens to me as long as Christ is glorified and the gospel is preached!” What? “Suffering, hardship, persecution, prison . . . they mean nothing as long as Christ’s purposes go forth.” What a single focus! It was this narrow-mindedness, this made up “mindness” that enabled Paul to never be incarcerated by any circumstance. Do you see that Paul may have been chained to a Roman guard, but he was never a prisoner of Rome? He was a prisoner of Christ.
Modern day examples of the single mind for me are David and Lisa Spencer. Their daily lives have been completely altered during this time of David’s illness, but their joy and faith have never been altered. They are focused on seeking God’s glory and God’s will. Paul said of his circumstances in verse 12, “It’s all good . . .” (well, that is a Pratt paraphrase) “It’s all good because what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” I’m sure Paul preferred not to be in prison, but more than he preferred not to be in prison, he purposed to advance the gospel. I’m sure David and Lisa Spencer would prefer that David not have cancer, but more than they prefer for David to be well, I see they prefer to trust God and glorify Him in the midst of their circumstances.
If you want to know where a person’s heart and mind truly are, watch them go through a time of suffering. It will be obvious real quick. We must make up our mind that NO MATTER WHAT we will serve and glorify God. Look at Philippians 1:27-30: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved–and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.”
Whatever happens . . . live like a Christian. Stand firm in your faith. Don’t be afraid. If the deal doesn’t go through, if the promotion doesn’t happen, if the house doesn’t sell, if the news at the doctors’ office is bad, if people don’t do what they say they will do, if you don’t make the team, if you don’t get into the school of your dreams . . . whatever happens live like a Christian!
The second mindset Mr. Weirsbe identifies from Philippians comes from chapter 2. It is the Submissive mind-Joy over difficult people. Look at verses 3 and 4 again: “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.”
There is no better example of someone who possessed the submissive mind than Jesus. Humility will go a long way in helping us keep our joy intact. We aren’t always right. Let’s just practice saying that together. “I am not always right.” That’s hard for some of us, isn’t it? J Sometimes others who annoy, frustrate us or offend us are having a bad day. They don’t intend to be ineffective servers at the restaurant as I am sure they want a good tip. They might be dealing with a slow kitchen or fatigue or having too many tables in their care. People don’t always intend to be aggressive drivers. You may be in their blind spot when you are trying to merge. They might be on their way to an emergency. They might be dealing with a situation that has them emotionally overwhelmed, and their mind isn’t on the road like it should be.
Remember what Paul said in chapter one? “Whatever happens conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel.” Listen, getting it right with people is KEY in reflecting that we have become right with God. We are to be devoted to people in brotherly love, Romans 12:10. We are to give preference to others, treating them as even better than ourselves. We are to encourage one another, I Thessalonians 5:11. We are to be patient with people, Ephesians 4:2. If we make up our minds in advance that we are going to be kind and gracious with people we won’t get tweaked when the steak we ordered medium rare comes out well done. We can ask for a new one with kindness and grace. When someone forgets their appointment with us after we rearranged things to make sure we could keep the appointment we will be able to respond with kindness and grace. When someone jumps in front of us in line somewhere we will recognize that in the grand scheme of life it’s not a big deal, and we can pity the person who didn’t learn to be polite and just keep our mouths shut. You see, how you respond to people who annoy or frustrate you can make or break an opportunity to share Christ’s love.
In Philippians 1, Paul said that suffering came with the territory. We need to learn to suffer like Christ. Scripture said Jesus was like a “lamb led to the slaughter, but He didn’t open His mouth,” Isaiah 53:7. Not only do we need to learn to suffer like Christ, but we also need to learn according to chapter 2 to sacrifice like Christ. It’s not always about our needs, our wants, our desires, and our schedules. We are to be servants. Look at Philippians 2:5-7 “5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
When you choose to love people instead of “put them in their place,” when you choose to be patient with people rather than give them a “piece of your mind,” when you give people the benefit of the doubt and the right of way even though they were being self-centered when they cut you off or weren’t focused on others when they jumped ahead of you, when you refrain instead of unleashing your thoughts and opinions or when you speak tenderly instead of harshly you are actually serving them. You choose to serve rather than shame. You choose to serve rather than expose their weakness. That doesn’t mean you become a doormat, but it means whatever you say, whatever you do in gesture with your body language, your goal is to serve the person in that situation.
Look at John 13:2-5 “2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power . . .” What Jesus knew affected what He did! He didn’t live with the agenda of trying to prove why He was right or who He was or that He knew best. He knew He was victorious. He didn’t have to win a debate to prove that to anyone. He didn’t have to point out someone else’s shortcomings in order to show He knew more than they did. He was just secure in the victory He knew God had given Him. That didn’t mean He never confronted anyone, butHe didn’t live with an agenda other than to do the will of the Father which involved submitting to serving other people.
Philippians 2:5 tells us when we adopt this submissive mind toward people we are becoming like Jesus. Isn’t that the goal? Isn’t it awesome that difficult or annoying people can be used of God to help us become like Jesus? I’m not just looking on the bright side here. I’m telling you with all sincerity that people who frustrate or inconvenience you are a divine opportunity for you to practice thinking about them like Jesus does.
In chapter 3 of Philippians, Mr. Weirsbe identifies the attitude of the Spiritual Mind-Joy over things. Philippians 3:19-20:19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. . .” Paul realized it wasn’t about earthly pursuits or fleshly gratifications, but it was about the pursuit of heaven. It was about being heavenly-minded, not earthly minded.
Your money, your home, your vehicles, your accomplishments like team wins and diplomas . . . these are all things that can become a snare to you. They can start to control you rather than be things through which you can glorify God, or they can cause you to be puffed up in your abilities rather than be focused on the reality that it’s God’s power at work in you and God’s gifts to you that enable you to accomplish or possess anything.
Paul had a lot of reasons to be impressed with himself. Look at Philippians 3:4-6 “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
You could say Paul “had it going on!” He seemed perfect on paper and perfect to those who were watching his success. He had gone as far as any Jew could go. He was at the top of his game. Until he met Christ he was so blinded by his successes that he even thought that persecuting and killing Christians was a good and right thing to do. It wasn’t until God blinded Paul by a bright light on the Damascus road that Paul could clearly see his faults and how worthless his earthly pursuits were. From that point on, it wasn’t about Paul, but about preaching the Gospel and making sure God was seen in his life.
Paul did a 180! He went from being concerned about his reputation to being sure God’s reputation spread as far and wide as possible. About all of Paul’s accolades and accomplishments he said in verse 8, “They are trash. They are all behind me. They aren’t what is important.” Wow! Paul had such a spiritual mind that he no longer said, “Look at me,” but “Look at God!” Look at verse 13 of chapter 3: “13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” One thing. Paul was a one track mind man. His mind was on heaven and spiritual things.
If you have to always have the best or be the best you will more often than not be disappointed and unhappy. When you are focused on things you get sucked into comparing yourself with others and will find many reasons not to have joy. The antidote for that problem is to keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of your faith! If you are a Christian, your citizenship is now in heaven and that is where your mind has to be as well.
Finally, Mr. Weirsbe identifies the fourth mindset in chapter four of Philippians that we need to adopt is the SECURE mind. Philippians 4:6-7 are the key verses for someone who needs to develop a secure mind. “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Worry will steal any joy that circumstances, people, and earthly minded living have left behind. Worry is really wrong thinking and wrong feeling about our circumstances, about people and about the things we possess and accomplish. When we think incorrectly about the things stated in chapters one, two and three, it will worry us which will totally defeat us. If we believe all of life is under God’s control and we seek to glorify Him alone, He will take care of every detail, give us strength for every trial and deliver us securely through every circumstance. I believe if we prayed about everything we wouldn’t worry about anything. Scripture says we are to “pray without ceasing” (I Thes. 5:17) and the reason is because there will always be something to worry about if we don’t.
Philippians 4 says we don’t have to be anxious. There is a perfect peace available to us that isn’t just an ideal but is a reality when we trust completely in God alone!
In addition to praying about everything we have to get our minds thinking correctly about everything. Some of us need to go on a “thought diet.” We need to stop thinking about things that feed depression and feed feelings of failure and feed negative patterns. We need to start thinking about (vs. 8) “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy.”
Listen, God will provide for His people. You need to meditate on that truth. Philippians 4:19 says God will supply all of our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. God will also give you power to endure the moment and help you be content while you are in the midst of less than ideal circumstances. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” When you are prone to worry you need to repeat Scriptures like this until your mind is convinced they are true.
Let me show you one more thing we often overlook. After you have prayed and pondered the truth of God’s Word, put your faith into practice. Look at chapter 4:9. “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
God’s peace will be with you as you live daily live for Him. It’s about right praying, right thinking, but it is also about right living. It does no good to pray in faith and think in faith and then live in disobedience to the truth of God’s Word and deny its power by playing the victim, giving in to worry, and letting worry dictate your daily actions and agenda.
Peggy Porter, Cub Scout mom tells this story:
My son Gilbert was eight years old and had been in Cub Scouts only a short time. During one of his meetings he was handed a sheet of paper, a block of wood and four tires and told to return home and give all to “dad.”
That was not an easy task for Gilbert to do. Dad was not receptive to doing things with his son. But Gilbert tried. Dad read the paper and scoffed at the idea of making a pine wood derby car with his young, eager son. The block of wood remained untouched as the weeks passed. Finally, mom stepped in to see if she could figure this all out. The project began. Having no carpentry skills, she decided it would be best if she simply read the directions and let Gilbert do the work. And he did.
Within days his block of wood was turning into a pinewood derby car. A little lopsided, but looking great (at least through the eyes of mom). Gilbert had not seen any of the other kids’ cars and was feeling pretty proud of his “Blue Lightning,” the pride that comes with knowing you did something on your own.
Then the big night came. With his blue pinewood derby in his hand and pride in his heart we headed to the big race. Once there my little one’s pride turned to humility. Gilbert’s car was obviously the only car made entirely on his own. All the other cars were a father-son partnership, with cool paint jobs and sleek body styles made for speed.
A few of the boys giggled as they looked at Gilbert’s, lopsided, wobbly, unattractive vehicle. To add to the humiliation Gilbert was the only boy without a man at his side. A couple of the boys who were from single parent homes at least had an uncle or grandfather by their side. Gilbert had “mom.”
As the race began it was done in elimination fashion. You kept racing as long as you were the winner. One by one the cars raced down the finely sanded ramp. Finally it was between Gilbert and the sleekest, fastest looking car there. As the last race was about to begin, my wide-eyed, shy eight year old ask if they could stop the race for a minute because he wanted to pray. The race stopped.
Gilbert hit his knees clutching his funny looking block of wood between his hands. With a wrinkled brow he set to converse with his Father. He prayed in earnest for a very long minute and a half. Then he stood, smile on his face and announced, ‘Okay, I am ready.”
As the crowd cheered, a boy named Tommy stood with his father as their car sped down the ramp. Gilbert stood with his Heavenly Father within his heart and watched his block of wood wobble down the ramp with surprisingly great speed and rushed over the finish line a fraction of a second before Tommy’s car.
Gilbert leaped into the air with a loud “Thank you” as the crowd roared in approval. The Cub Master came up to Gilbert with microphone in hand and asked the obvious question, “So you prayed to win, huh, Gilbert?”
To which my young son answered, “Oh, no sir. That wouldn’t be fair to ask God to help you beat someone else. I just asked Him to make it so I wouldn’t cry if I lost.”
Children seem to have wisdom far beyond us. Gilbert didn’t ask God to win the race.He didn’t ask God to fix the outcome. Gilbert asked God to give him strength to accept whatever happened. (http://www.usscouts.org/usscouts/pinewood/gilbert.asp)
That is the secret of having a secure mind. What mindset do you need to work on this morning? Are you single minded? Submissive minded? Spiritually minded? Secure minded? Why not respond to God’s Word in faith and ask Him to give you the mind of Christ?