Philippians #3 Mind Over Mood
Christians have no business living their lives by their moods or relating to others according to their moods. Moodiness is an evidence of spiritual instability and immaturity. Rather, we are to live our lives regulated by God’s unselfish agape love. Agape love is a love that only God has, but He gives it to His own. As we allow Him to control us by submitting to His indwelling Holy Spirit, we begin to share that agape love with others. I invite you to read Philippians 1:9-11 and learn about dynamic, growing unselfish agape love.
Love is the foundation of the Christian life.
All other religions have fierce, hateful deities. The worshippers do not love their gods, nor do they sense their gods love them. Hebrews 2:15 characterizes their lives as controlled by fear and bondage. They offer sacrifices and do penance to try to appease their angry gods.
On the other hand, Christianity is characterized by a loving relationship with God, Our Creator, as our Heavenly Father. We do not deserve that relationship with God, for our sins have offended Him. Thanks be to God, He sent His Son as a man, Jesus, to come into this world and live among us and then die on a cross, taking the penalty of death we deserved to pay for our sins and then rising from the dead three days later to justify us. When we receive Him by faith as our Saviour, He imputes His righteousness to us. We are justified and declared righteous. It’s His righteousness; not ours, that saves us.
Not only are we justified and declared righteous, but His Holy Spirit comes to live in our bodies and He empowers us to live lives pleasing to Him.
Furthermore, we are adopted into His family and begin to experience His amazing, unfathomable love to us. As a result we begin loving Him and others, because He first loved us. I John 4:19.
For us, love is not static. As Christians, we have the ability to grow and mature by feeding on God’s Word. With that growing maturity we have the ability to grow in our love for God and for others. That was Paul’s concern for the Philippian Christians and that is the concern of every true pastor for his congregation. We as pastors need to grow in selfless love for our congregations and model that love for them.
Nothing we do has value unless we are motivated by God’s love.
That’s the message of I Corinthians 13, the great love chapter of the Bible. For example, knowledge without love is just irritating noise. Preacher, teacher, remember that next time you stand before others to teach your congregation or your class God’s Word.
Romantic love shown to your spouse or sweetheart is basically selfish unless it comes from the heart of one who has been touched by God’s unselfish, agape love.
Love without humility is simply proud, arrogant self-love.
The use of our spiritual gifts, apart from agape love, is just another pious manifestation of ugly pride.
Only prayer from a heart of love and concern is effectual prayer.
Growth in agape love is commensurate with spiritual maturity.
With a growing spiritual maturity that comes by feeding on God’s Word, comes a growing genuine humility that enables us to esteem others as better than ourselves and a growing discernment of being able to distinguish right from wrong and that which is better from that which is best. That’s what Paul is teaching in Philippians 1:9-10
We don’t become know-it-alls, forcing our opinions on others. An arrogant teacher is so unbecoming as a Christian. He has nothing of value to share but his hot air.
Love leads to excellence.
Do you see the progression in verse 9-10? “So that ye may approve things that are excellent.” Christian parents, preachers and teachers, by feeding on God’s Word and staying surrendered to His indwelling Holy Spirit, we progress in spiritual maturity so that as we stand before our children or our Sunday School class or congregation, we are able to distinguish between trivia and our opinions and give to those we teach that which is valuable and worthwhile, God’s Word. Everyone’s time is too valuable to waste on trivia and trivial pursuits.
Spiritual maturity is caught more than taught.
In the final analysis, our children, our students and our congregations learn more by observing our lives than they do by listening to what we say. That’s why Paul and every true preacher or teacher or parents should be saying with the Apostle Paul, “Be followers of me as I follow Christ.” I Corinthians 4:15-17, 11:1, Philippians 3:17, and I Thessalonians 1:5-10.
Most people do not think. They simply react to their moods.
Spiritual growth does not come by our seeking feelings and experiences in church. It comes by quietly and humbly listening to or reading the Word of God and determining to obey what we learn. Philippians 4:8 warns us that it is important what we read or what we watch on television or at the movies and feed our minds.
We need to get beyond living by our moods and reacting to circumstances and other people. We need to feed on God’s Word. We need to meditate and ruminate on God’s Word as a cow chews its cud.
Philippians 1:10 teaches us that the goal of feeding on God’s Word is so we may be sincere and without offense. That word sincere speaks to us of integrity. The word sincere comes from a Latin word that means without wax.
Pottery merchants would sometimes take cracked pots and fill the cracks with wax and repaint them so that they looked as good as new. For us to pretend to be what we are not is to lack integrity. How many preachers stand in pulpits today who preach a good Biblical message, but whose lives are not what they ought to be. Such preachers lack integrity. They try to cover the cracks in their lives with the wax of hypocrisy.
It’s only as our lives are in harmony with what we preach that we have integrity. That’s why we need to expose our lives and our flaws to the light of God’s Word. Sometimes God allows the heat of trials to come into our lives in order to expose those cracks. It’s only as we confess our sins and get right with God that we can become men and women of integrity.
May we be so filled with God’s Word that we are repulsed by the world’s attractions, values and standards. May we not tolerate sin in our lives.
May we as Philippians 1:11 teaches, be filled with the fruits of righteousness. Only then can we bring praise and glory to God our Saviour. Will you begin this process today?
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