THE GODLY EXAMPLE
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*The year was 2010...I was in Afghanistan and was about to watch the college football national championship featuring 2 of the hottest offenses in America. The Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks. Both had great years but so many people were drawn to Oregon because of this dynamic offense they had. At one point in the season they averaged 57.7 points per game, almost a point per minute. They ended the season leading the nation by scoring 47.7 points per game. They spread you out and would be on the ball running another play before you even knew what hit you. It was one of the most exciting things to watch and it was something the college football world had really never seen before. Some people referred to it as a track meet on turf because of the speed of the players. Others called it basketball on turf because of how quickly they scored. It was the invention of the Spread Option offense and it had people amazed because it was so far from the football norm.
Tony Merida, a professor at Southeastern Seminary, said this:
"We are drawn to the dramatic. The church gets sucked into the extraordinary as product of the culture, in which everything gets sensationalized around us; even the nightly weather report is often sensationalized! As a result our addiction to sensationalism, we get bored easily, we can't be still to study or listen, and we tend to downplay faithful, normal Christian service that honors Jesus. God normally meets us and uses us in the ordinariness of life.
Let me use an illustration. Fred Craddock once said,
To give my life for Christ appears glorious. To pour myself out for others...to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom-I'll do it. I'm ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory.....We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table- "Here's my life,Lord. I'm giving it all." But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 bill for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbors kid's troubles instead of saying, "get lost." Go to a committee meeting. Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home. Usually giving our life to Christ isn't glorious. It's done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it's harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul. (Darryl Bell, "Practical Implications of Consecration")
Faithful Christian living might mean martyrdom for some, and if so, then we should rightly honor those believers. But for many others, those like Epaphroditus, faithful Christian living involves pouring our lives out, little by little, in practical acts of service over the long haul. It involves "giving out quarters every day": having a lonely person over for dinner; babysitting for a single mother; inviting some international students over; doing foster care; praying with a friend; helping someone move; visiting those in the hospital; and so on. This passage in Philippians 2 involves a guy delivering a gift to Paul and getting sick along the way. Paul says essentially that he spent some quarters and should be honored.
1. He was a BALANCED Christian
What do I mean by balanced? What is a balanced diet?
A little bit of everything right...Not so much of one that you forget the other right
He was a BROTHER: which means he was family...he had become a believer...When you become a Christian you not only have a new relationship with God, you have a new relationship with other believers. Our identity has changed; God is our father; and we are adopted into the family of believers. They are just like your biological family now.
He was a COWORKER: which means they were on the same team and had the same mission. The furtherance of the Gospel. All the churches in our area are supposed to be on the same team but far too often we are all competing with one another to see who can have more members and that is not how God intended it.
He was a FELLOW SOLDIER: He was in the fight. He knew the spiritual battle they were in and it still did his part to help and be selfless.
How easy it is for the Christian to get out of balance!!
Some Christians just think we need to fellowship and kind of go all in on the fellowship.
Some Christians think we just need Bible study and go all in on Bible study
Other are out trying to service and forget both Bible study and fellowship
That reminds me of the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42(read it) She was so busy doing and trying to serve that she forgot fellowship and didn't take time to sit and listen to Jesus
*THE EXAMPLE HERE IS THAT WE MUST BE BALANCED*
2. He was a BURDENED Christian
Carry a heavy load...You care deeply about people
In other words, he had the submissive mind and thought of others instead of himself
Are we more focused on self or on others?
Are we concerned about others? Let me ask you this...if somebody in this church got caught in some kind of sin, would we be more concerned for them or more concerned about who all we could run and tell? If someone got arrested or had a public moral failure, would you be more concerned about what is going on in that person's life or more concerned about letting your best friend know what happened so you would have something to talk about?
Though he was sick and almost died, Epaphroditus' burden was for Paul and the church back at Philippi. He cared about them in the good times and bad.
We love going on foreign mission trips, and the reason I believe they are so intriguing is because we can tell people we went all the way across the world to help people...yet we live here every single day and don't help anybody.
Do you care about people you work with?
Do you care about people in our community?
Foreign missions are great but we need Christians to be burdened for their own local church and community.
*THE EXAMPLE HERE IS TO LOVE AND CARE DEEPLY FOR PEOPLE AND THAT LOVE WILL DRIVE US TO ACTION*