Eph 4:1-3; Phil 2:5-8

 

We are starting a new series “I Will” today. I want us to learn the traits of an outwardly focused Christian.  We have to quit being belly button gazers and focus on others.  Let’s not be selfish and focus on our needs and wants but on the needs of others, within the church and outside of the church.  In order to do that we will have to have an attitude adjustment in some areas.

 

I read a story of a lady named Heather who got married and got involved in her husband’s church, the church where he grew up. She got involved, she was accepted, she had many close friends.  She loved her church.  But one Sunday she dreaded getting out of bed to go.  What happened?  There was no one negative event that changed her mind; just over time she had become an unhappy Christian, an unhappy church member.

This happens way too often.  Over the last month I have personally talked to 2 preachers and 1 elder from three different churches in three different states that have several unhappy members, some have left, many have stayed and continue to complain.

It has happened here in the past; I pray it is not happening right now. But I know Satan is always working and tempting and trying to cause trouble if we will let him.

 

We want joyous Christians saying, “I Love My Church” and who are serving others not grumpy Christians who are only focused on themselves.

 

Back to “Heather’s” story. She loved her church when she joined, it was fun and exciting to attend, she got involved and lead in different ministries.  It was in those meetings that her attitude started to change.  Older more mature Christians in those meetings where getting upset about changes that where being implemented.  One leader had the audacity to say, “Why are you always talking about people who are not members of this church.  Our church and our needs come first.”  Many others in the meeting gave a hearty “Amen!”

 

Can you imagine a person who claims to be a Christian that selfish and inwardly focused – like the church is a Christian country club – only member’s needs are the focus.

 

Why does a church exist? Why did Jesus come and die?

Jesus came to seek and save the lost.  He came to rescue sinners.  The unhealthy are the ones who need a doctor.  If we have the attitude of the Christian who I just quoted, then you are a Pharisee.

The purpose of the Church, big C and the church, little c is to seek and save the lost not make sure all the saved people’s needs are met.  The Big C church is all Christians around the world who make up the Body of Christ; the little c church is all the Christians that make up our local body here at Oak Forest Church of Christ.

 

Membership at Oak Forest does have its privileges in the area of shepherding and involvement but that doesn’t mean all your desires will be met. Our goal is to help you grow in Jesus but also to reach others with the gospel.  We have to be outwardly focused so more people will be able to have the joy you have in Christ.

 

“Heather” left the church because her needs where not being met and remained away from any church for 4 years. When she started church shopping she couldn’t find a “good” church.  No church met her needs or likes. (Let me clue you in – there are not perfect churches – if there where and you joined it wouldn’t me.)  Church is not about being perfect to meet your needs; it is about helping you grow in Jesus and reaching out to win more to Jesus.  When “Heather” meet with the new preacher her attitude was challenged and she went from being a “I Want” Christian to an “I Will” Christian.

 

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

You will be a miserable Christian when you focus on your wants and have expectations of others instead of focusing on others and only have expectation of yourself. (let me read that again)

 

If you have a critical spirit, you will be able to find plenty to complain about. If you are more concerned about your wants and needs being met, you will be able to grumble.  Last week I told all of us to “Grow Up” and quit being selfish.  Grow up and say, “I Will” not “I Want.”  Be a joyous church member and Christian not a grumpy old Christian that has to have things to their liking.

 

Have the right attitude so you can have the right actions. Be like Isaiah.

 

Isaiah 6:8  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

 

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

 

When you ask the Lord to send you to serve others you can’t be selfish. You become a living sacrifice – considering others needs before your needs.  You consider others wants before your wants.  You live a Christ like life, with a Christ like attitude, you become a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

 

A right attitude will lead to right actions. A wrong attitude will lead to wrong actions.  It is your choice.

 

A husband in fear and trembling, asked his wife this question. I asked her why she has remained so faithful and loving when I have been a lousy husband at times. Her response was incredibly simple, but incredibly revealing.

“Honey,” she began. “When I said, ‘I do’ and ‘for better or worse,’ I meant it. I knew we would not always have easy times. I knew there would be struggles. But I made a commitment to you. I made my mind up. That has been my attitude from the first day of our marriage.”

 

This wife made a choice to have the right attitude and that produce right actions even or especially when it was difficult. Marriage is not about getting your way.  Marriage is about a commitment you made to your spouse before God. You said, “I Do.”  Most of your vows sounded something like this.

 

I, take you to be my spouse. I promise before God and these witnesses that I will be true and devoted; true to you in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, in prosperity and in adversity; and that forsaking all others I will keep myself for you, and only you, until God shall separate us by death.

 

What is your attitude in your marriage? What is your attitude as a Christian?

If you become selfish your marriage will not last.  If you become a selfish Christian, you will not last.

 

So what does a right attitude look like?

 

  1. I Am a Unifying Christian

We must have an attitude of unity.  We are united in Christ for the good of all.  All is everyone in the church and everyone we can reach.  To have unity we each must make the decision to unite under Christ.

Like any team we have to put the good of the group ahead of our self.

We have to put the good of others ahead of our self.

We have to put the good of the lost ahead of our self.

 

Ephesians 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Unity requires: humility, gentleness, patience, and acceptance of one another in love.

Is that how you deal with each other?

We view others ideas better than our own?

We show kindness even if others are not being kind.

We have a long fuse instead of a short fuse even when others are frustrating.

We accept others as they are.

This may not be easy but it is Christ like.

He will give you the strength to create unity by following His example.

 

Are you living your life to bring unity to your congregation?

 

  1. I Am a Sacrificial Christian

 

Philippians 2:5 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. 8  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

 

When you are sacrificing for others is when you are most like Jesus. If you don’t give up what you want, if you don’t sacrifice time, money and energy how can you claim to be a Christian.  Society wants us to love like Jesus – they have a misunderstanding as do many Christians of what Jesus’ love is.  Love is a verb.  Love is sacrifice.

 

Are you living a sacrificial life?

 

  1. I Am a Prayerful Christian

 

Colossians 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

 

Do you constantly prayer for others? How should we pray?

“asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will” “so they will please Him”

Our prayers are not for their comfort, for their healing, or for their happiness.

Pray that others will accept and understand God’s will so their life will be please to Jesus. Our life is not to please us but Jesus.  That is the attitude of a unifying, sacrificial Christian life.

 

Let others know you are praying for them. It is very encouraging.  When we know others are praying for us we feel loved and accepted.  We know we are not alone in our struggles.

 

Are you making prayer a priority in your life?

Are you praying for the preacher and the elders?

Paul asked for prayers

Ephesians 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,

 

If you don’t like the leadership direction of the evangelist and the elders, then you need to pray harder. As you pray we will be filled with the knowledge of His will.

 

That is why Jesus taught us to pray in His name and that His will be done. When we accept His will we will be a joyful Christian.

 

  1. I Am a Joyful Christian

 

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.

 

Rejoice and be thankful – yes, life is difficult. Paul wrote this as he was in prison for preaching the good news of Jesus to a church that was struggling with division.

 

Rejoice – be a joyful Christian. Jesus did not die so you could be a grumpy Christian.

How can you be a grumpy Christian if you remember what God has done for you?

How can you be a grumpy Christian if you remember what is in store for you in Heaven?

How can you be a grumpy Christian being a part of the Church that Jesus created? (1 Corinthians 12:27)

 

If you complain and are critical and divisive have you truly been converted to Jesus or did you just get wet when you were immersed?

 

Christianity is about joy.

John 10:10  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

If we are going to be an outwardly focused Christian, then we must have the right attitude so we will have the right actions. We need the attitude of unity, sacrifice, prayer and joy so that we can say, “I Will.”

 

“Our attitudes are the foundations of our actions. If I am joyous, I will tend to be an encouraging person. If I am angry, I will tend to be a critical person.”

 

If I never told Vicki I loved her, if I never served her, if I never spent time with her would she be able to tell I had a good attitude and appreciation for who she is and what she does?

 

If I have a positive attitude toward my wife it will result in actions.

Actions speak louder than words because actions prove your words.

 

Christian it is time to prove your love for Jesus by your attitudes and actions.

 

When we turn our eyes upon Jesus we will live in His grace.

 

Leave a Comment