Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Pastor's Heart

Intro.: I never was a fan of X-Files; I don’t think I ever saw the show, I never saw the show.. But this week I ran across a quote that caught my attention. The quote I found is out of context – but I think it is significant. Scully was one of the main characters on the show. At some point he says -

  1. “Well, it seems to me that the best relationships – the ones that last – are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship.”i

  2. I think that this was the basis for Paul's relationship with the church at Philippi.

  3. He built a friendship – he spent time with them, he opened himself up to them.

  4. They saw him in good times and in bad. Paul had spent time in the Philippian jail – where the jailer and his family were eventually saved and baptised.

  5. Paul Tournier, a Catholid psychiatrist who worked with the mentally ill, is one of my favorite authors. He once wrote, “You can never establish a personal relationship without opening up your own heart.”ii

  6. Paul did that.

Read: Philippians 1:3-11


T.S. Philippians 1: 2-11 suggests two characteristics that help us understand the relationship between Paul and the Philippians.

  1. The relationship was unlimited

    1. Look at verse 3: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” - Every time he thought of the Philippians – Paul could not but remember the Philippians after his two year visit.

    2. Six times Paul uses a suberlative “all, every, whenever, ...” There would be no limits to Paul's concern for the Philippians.

(Ill.) Three is a story told of two boys who were working their way through Leland Stanford University found themselves almost without funds. One of them conceived the idea of engaging the great Polish pianist, Paderewski, for a piano recital, and devoting the profits to their board and tuition. The pianist’s manager asked for a guarantee of $2,000. The boys proceeded to stage the concert, but the proceeds totaled only $1,600. The boys sought the great artist and told him of their efforts. They gave him the entire $1,600 and a promissory note for the $400, explaining that they would earn the balance and pay it off at the earliest possible moment. “No, boys, that won’t do,” said Paderewski. Then, tearing up the note, he returned the money to them, saying, “Now take out of the $1,600 all of your expenses, and keep ten percent of the balance for each of you for your work, and let me have the rest.” The years rolled by. The war came, and Paderewski was striving with might and main to feed the starving thousands in his beloved Poland. There was only one man in the world who could help Paderewski. Thousands of tons of food began to come into Poland for distribution. After the starving people were fed, Paderewski journeyed to Paris to thank Herbert Hoover for the relief sent them. “That’s quite all right, Mr. Paderewski,” was Mr. Hoover’s reply. “ Besides, you don’t remember how you helped me once when I was a student working my way through Leland Stanford, and I was in a hole.”iii

(Appl.) Who are there those you remember for the contribution to your life? Who were the men and women that allowed you to grow? Who were the persons that contributed to you spiritual life over the years? Are there those who, like Paul, you can say, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”

    1. But there is another way in which Paul's concern is unlimited.

    2. Look at verse 7: “ have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.” What ever the circumstances, Paul never forgot the Philippians.

    3. It is hard to always be thankful. Life gets hard at times. Life gets crushing at times. Life gets overwhelming.

    4. As Paul writes, he is sitting chained to a guard.

    5. Paul demonstrates that even in the midst of adversity, it is possible to be concerned about others. It is possible to pray for others.

  1. The relationship was graceful

    1. Paul's relationship with the Philippians brought him to his knees.

    2. First, he takes the opportunity to give thanks.

    3. Paul had received considerable hospitality while Philippi – not counting the time he spent in Jail. But there is some evidence that the Philippians continued to support Paul and his ministry even after he left Philippi.

    4. No reason that they should, nobody demanded their support. But they wanted to because they had to love Paul's ministry to their church.

(Appl.) Giving comes from the heart – not obligation. An employer has to give you a salary. Yep, he is giving it, but it is not a gift. It is not giving as defined by God. Biblical giving comes from a changed heart. It is a response to what God has done for us.

    1. And Paul was thankful for their participation in his ministry.

    2. But Paul's prayer was not just about thanksgiving. He would also pray for their spiritual growth. Look at v. 9-11: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

    3. Paul was grateful for the way they were, but he did not want them to stay that way. Growth, change, becoming more Christlike is part of the Christian life.

(Appl.) Two consequence for each of us: First, we should desire the same for ourselves.

(Ill.) John Owen once said, “All love in general hath an assimilating efficacy; it casts the mind into the mold of the thing beloved. Every approach unto God by ardent love and delight is transfiguring.”iv

    1. When we come to God he will change us.

(Appl.) Not only should that be our prayer for ourselves, but it should also be our prayer for each other. I stand here today and tell you that I need you to pray that prayer for me. I, too, need to become more Christ like. Look to the person to your right, to your left, in front, behind. Even as Paul prayed that the Philippian church might become more Christ like, so must we pray for those people around us.


iWater, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (Page 857). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

iiWater, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (Page 857). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

iiiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

ivWater, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (Page 1063). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

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