The Proof of a Heart & Mind Ruled by True Love
Text: Philippians 1:10-11
Often how we imagine a situation is entirely different to the reality, e.g. we often imagine that having more wealth would free us up to do more for God. That better health would enable us to do the same. We might also think that being deprived of something would make us yearn for it more.
While these observations may be true for the our sinful carnal nature, it wasn’t for Paul. Here he is imprisoned in Rome, and you would think that being deprived of his freedom, his mind would be full of temporal wants or needs. Instead, he’s consumed with the spiritual.
And this is often the case for us as well. Wealth, very often, rather than helping your spiritual life, often hinders it. It is poverty that may be more likely to keep us close to God. Now we hate to admit that, but that’s a fact. And while I don’t believe any should strive for poverty, there is a danger in abundance. But Paul’s deprivation wasn’t hindering him spiritually. He had learned what few of us truly learn 4:12.
As we saw last week, he yearns that they might abound in that supernatural love that is born in us by the Holy Ghost. And beloved, this needs to be a regular prayer of ours. That we might have more of the Spirit’s abundance of love in our hearts. That one thing will change how how we speak, what we do, and where we go. But it must be a love instructed with knowledge and guided by true discernment.
Therefore, it’s not the kind of love that tolerates everything without judgment. In a day of ever-increasing ecumenism, where we’re told to accept everyone, Paul’s prayer specifically contradicts that. He doesn’t want them to have a love without boundaries. No, they are to have a love fettered and guided by truth and godly discernment. This kind of love doesn’t permit us to accept the Pope as a Christian leader, like Rick Warren wants us to do, and Billy Graham before him.
No, true love will not accept that which contradicts God or His revealed truth. It’s impossible to love Christ unless we love His truth as well.
And with this love instructed in the Word of God, they may approve/test things that are excellent, i.e. they may know what is good and what is best. And that of course is borne out in how we live with eternal truths in view.
We have temporal responsibilities just like those without Christ. But, the Christian judges how to execute their responsibilities in light of revealed truth. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor 4:17-18.
e.g. we carry out our parental responsibilities, not just by feeding and protecting our children, but by bringing them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. And that’s what Paul is praying for.
I. WE WILL DEMONSTRATE PURITY – v10
“sincere” = purity. That which is not tainted. Translated pure in 2 Pet 2:1 “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance”. It also has the idea of being single-minded. To be single-minded is to have one controlling theme in life that governs your ambitions and desires, and while that may be for evil, Paul is obviously wanting this in a positive sense.
And it’s that single-mindedness that drives away hypocrisy. We are those that set our affections on those things which are above. Ps 12:2 “They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.”
And how many are like this. A heart for God and a heart for the world. Confused affections! And listen, I know there’s a type of Christianity out there that you don’t subscribe to. A Christianity without conviction about God’s law in the life of the believer. But they’re not my primary responsibility, you are, and you can be sitting here orthodox in mind, but divided in heart. It’s maybe entertainment that keeps you from prayer.
We’re meant to be able to pull down the strongholds of the devil, but the fact is most Christians don’t have the power to turn off their TV when they should. Can any man serve two masters? Let this Lord’s Day be a call from the Lord for you to present yourself a living sacrifice upon the altar.
When was the last time you put your life on the altar? When was the last time your search your heart for hidden idols? Like Achan you might have a Babylonian garment hidden somewhere, acting like everything is fine, but if you were honest, you don’t have the purity of a single-minded devotion to Christ.
In light of the Cross, is it not tragic that we often live as we do?
II. WE WILL DEMONSTRATE PEACEABLENESS
“without offence” = stumbling block – is he praying that we won’t be stumbling blocks to others, or that we won’t have stumbling blocks in our hearts? Well, this word is used twice in the NT and in one place it’s used one way, and in the other it’s the other way. But it makes sense, for if we are stumbling blocks to others, it usually means we have a stumbling block in our lives that prevents us from the Christ-like spirit that would stop us from being a stumbling block to others.
Without offence. Oh what a challenge that is to us. What a prayer! To seek God that he would prevent us from being an offence or a stumbling block. And beloved, the greatest challenging facing us in this new chapter of the work is stumbling blocks being carried about in the hearts of believers. That will stifle any growth. And beloved, that is a headache I’d rather not face. The enemy will be after us, just as he has worked his craft in the past, and the last thing we need are stumbling blocks. “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses” 2 Cor 6:3-4
With that said, neither do we need a church full of people who find offence at every little thing. It amazes me what upsets people sometimes. And those who are easily upset, are not close to God. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Ps 119:165. Submit your heart to the Word of God, and the words and actions of men will struggle to penetrate your peace.
What Paul is praying for these believers is a spirit of forbearance and forgiveness, even when they are wronged. “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” 1 Pet 2:23. Now that needs to sink in to our hearts. No one was wronged like Christ.
Let me say this, there has never been an act of injustice like that which Christ faced. Never! All the aborted infants, all the abused children, all the beaten women, all the abused men – none of it equals the injustice done to Jesus Christ!
And listen, of course we should put things right when we can, but very often the pill we have to swallow is the pill our Saviour took… one without retaliation. There are people who will harbour bitterness for a lifetime rather than commit the matter to Him that judgeth righteously. It’s not weakness to respond like Christ – it’s spiritual maturity.
III. WE WILL DEMONSTRATE PRODUCT – v11
“fruits of righteousness” – the idea is that of a continual harvesting of holiness. Living in continual submission to the Holy Ghost that He might produce more of the spirit of Christ in us. And it’s not to be done by a set of rules and regulations, but notice it is “by Jesus Christ” i.e. through Jesus Christ. If we’re not in Christ, we can’t fulfill this. It is daily faith exercised in Him that will produce the fruits of righteousness.
You see, holy living is the natural produce of one that’s planted in Christ. If you’re in Christ, that temper must be tamed, that patience must be prolonged, and that godliness must be growing. That’s why he prays “that ye might be FILLED…”
And they live this way until the coming of Christ. Why? Why is that important, because it will bring glory and praise to God. Glory is the manifestation of God, and a life that abounds in true biblical love and is filled with the fruits of righteousness, is one that manifest the glory of God. But it’s also to the praise of God, which is the response of creation to the manifestation of God’s glory. In other words, a life that brings glory to God will bring praise to God by drawing it out of those who witness the sweet fragrance of your life.
i) his prayer begins with God and ends with God.
ii) he prays for what he believes will come to pass. v6 & v10.
iii) he prays specifically. Not just God bless me, or make me like Jesus, but He prays over the Christ-like fruits we most need.
iv) the second coming is central in prayer and practical Christian living. The second coming is not something we just debate – it is to purify us “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” 1 Jn 3:3.