DaySpring Presbyterian Church

Philippians 2:1-11 : Cruciforming BAD Attitudes

I. Bad Attitudes: a Symptom of Vain-Glory
What is a 'Bad' Attitude?
You might remember or have heard of Michael Jackson's 1987 song titled BAD. Its a song about rivalry - remember last week's sermon - Mike talked about rivalry? In this song Jackson is challenging his rival by asserting that he is above and beyond him (specifically more bad). In this song Jackson says: Well They Say The Sky's, The Limit, And To Me That's Really True, But My Friend You Have, Seen Nothin, Just Wait 'Til I Get Through, Because I'm Bad...
SO when I refer to a BAD attitude - what I mean is an attitude of oneself that is characterized by an "excessive love or high esteem of one's own self-appraised excellence".
When we have something appraised - we are determine the value of it.
A Bad attitude is a self-appraised attitude.
Maybe you have heard someone say: he/she's got a bad attitude". Well, this is because he/she thinks too highly of him/herself and is full of selfish ambition and vain-conceit.
And really you can replace "bad" with "sinful" "prideful" or "egotistical" and it will mean the same.
And we will learn today that such have no legitimacy in God's kingdom.
The word "attitude" in vs 5 is actually an imperative verb in the Greek and refers to the thinking or understanding of a person. It basically means YOU THINK THIS. Have this kind of mindset.
The cause of Bad Attitudes
Recall from last week: There are two Greek words that are the cause of BAD attitudes 1. (eritheia) - NIV "selfish ambition" is further described as "rivalry" or "fierce competition". It clearly means that the one with eritheia only has his own interests in mind.
This leads me to the second word 2. (kenodoxia) which means "pride without proper basis." A person motiated by empty or vain conceit "vain glory" (KJV) is a person who is conceited without reason, deluded, ambitious for his own reputation or glory, arrogantly claims to be right about many things but in all actuality is wrong about most things.
Last week: Such a person is empty of glory and is starving for glory.
And when a person is starving for glory and greatness they grasp at it.
Vain-glory identified by the act of "grasping"
See, we often grasp at things we want, things we don't have or things we have but have no right to which are in danger of losing.
When our pride is being challenged we grasp at it by arguing to be right. When our intelligence, our accomplishments or our reputation is threatened we fight to protect it - this is grasping.
Verse 6 tells us that Jesus' voluntary act of humiliation was not accompanied by an inclination to grasp at glory.
This tid bit of information all by itself is amazing considering our strong inclination to grasp at greatness and glory.
But what makes it more amazing is that Jesus had eternal greatness and glory which he shared with the Father.
This glory was his by right YET he voluntarily gave it up and let it go.
I said earlier - Paul's primarily concern was not theological but ethical -  however a strong case for the deity and humanity of Christ can be made from this.
If Jesus is only an angel as the JWs believe, then Paul's argument lacks force - an angel emptied himself of angelness - he stopped glowing?
If Jesus is merely an angel then his "emptying himself" is not so spectacular for the gap between his status as an angel and his status as a man is much smaller.
IN fact angels are below humans in the created order. (image of God)
Jesus was the creator of all angels as Paul said in his letter to the Colossians - By him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. (Col 1:16)
So here we have the creator of all things choosing to identify with his creation by becoming a man - now that is truly amazing.

The other day
I watched a documentary called
Autism the Musical. The film documents five autistic children who, along with their parents, take part in a groundbreaking theatrical workshop called "the Miracle Project" which was started by the mother of one of the children in an effort to help autistic children express themselves and to socialize with other kids. Over the course of six months the documentary draws us into their world of frustrations, challenges and triumphs as they prepare for the show. Working with autistic children at this level requires unlocking their inner world. This involves a great deal of patience, understanding, love and a strong community. Basically it requires putting the autistic child first and yourself last. But it also involves entering their world. As one of the parent's described: instead of trying to force the child to be a certain way, they sought to connect with him by entering his world. If the child was staring at his hand, the parents would stare at their hand too. If the child was being crazy and silly, they would join him. Have you ever seen how some autistic children are? They can literally live in an alternate reality! Nothing else around them exists. They were entering the child's world and seeking to reach the child - even to the point of becoming like him. And this is similar to what God has done for us in the person of Jesus Christ - but on a much, much greater scale.

Paul is contrasting who Jesus Christ is (the divine Son of God) with the with what he has accomplished on our behalf (his willingness to humble himself by becoming a man and to dying for our benefit).
Paul does this to show that there is no room in the universe for a bad attitude.

What makes such attitudes "Bad"

We have already mentioned "grasping" - allow me to elaborate.
The word Paul uses in vs 6 (harpagmos) is a noun that refers to "plunder taken by force" or something stolen during a robbery.
KJV - Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God..

Let me illustrate for you what grasping at glory looks like.
I read a story (true?) about a newly promoted Army colonel moved into his new and impressive office. As he sat behind his big new desk, a private knocked at his door. “Just a minute,” the colonel said, “I’m on the phone.” He picked up the phone and said loudly, “Yes, sir, General, I’ll call the President this afternoon. No, sir, I won’t forget.” Then he hung up the phone and told the private to come in. “What can I help you with?” the colonel asked. “Well, sir,” the private replied, “I’ve come to hook up your phone.” This Army colonel was so starved for glory that he committed robbery against his superiors to make himself look more important and more glorious to the private.

When we grasp at glory - we are attempting to rob God of glory - eventually it will be discovered we're really just a common thief trying to seize that which does not belong to us. Consider what Jesus said: whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Mat 23:12)

But had Jesus grasped at that glory - it would not have been considered robbery because it BELONGS to him - yet he let it go voluntarily.
Living Bible - who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God.

II. How We Develop BAD Attitudes
A Wrong View of Self
I am not saying that we have no value at all - but I am saying we have a tendency to think way too much of ourselves - overpriced!
We think we deserve to be praised, to be loved, to be honored.
But we really deserve condemnation. Our sin alone is enough to condemn us for eternity.
The only thing that stands between us and eternal condemnation is Jesus himself. And Jesus stepped in between us and condemnation by humbling himself.
John Calvin (16th Century theologian/reformer) said: It is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself."
When we lack true self-knowledge we will believe our own lies.
How well do you know yourself? How well do you know your own heart?
Are you deeply aware of its inclinations? Are you grieved over this big ugly monster you see inside of yourself?
Maybe you are saying - "I admit, I dont know myself very well - I am out of touch with the depths of my own heart and do not know what you mean by "big ugly monster".
Well then, friend - it is possible that you do not know Christ.
"I know about Christ - I know who he is" - yes and I know who George Clooney is but I don't KNOW him!
In order to have true knowledge of ourselves we must come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Unless our view of ourselves is correct our attitudes will remain enslaved by our own selfishness and hunger for glory. 

It's a problem for us all!
We all struggle with vain-glory and need to check our attitudes constantly.
We all desire the approval and applause of others.
And when we are not praised for what we have done we feel let down, used and we sometimes get angry-bad attitudes!
When things in life don't go the way we desire get frustrated and angry.
This is precisely what causes children to fight over toys.
This is what motivates adults in the business world to step on other people in order to reach the top of the corporate ladder.
This is what causes problems in our marriages and why so many end in divorce.
This is why so many leave their churches for another church - if they dont get their way they vote with their feet!
It's prideful - arrogant - its a bad attitude that needs to die.

III. The Solution - Cruciformity
Our attitudes must be cruciformed - reshaped - remade into one that resembles Christ's which requires that we die to "self."
Knowledge of self is the first step - death to self is the response to this knowledge.

Consider Christ who being in very nature - God - did not consider it robbery to be equal with God - he did not grasp at his own greatness.
He did the opposite - he emptied himself - the word is kenao - remember the word kenodoxia is made up of two words - keno and doxia.
Jesus emptied himself of his glory and took on the nature of a slave. Why? In order to serve us! He did this, not with a BAD attitude, but with a servant-like attitude.

A businessman once asked the president of a well known para-church ministry (Navigators) how he could know when he had a servantlike attitude. The answer was, “By how you act when you are treated like one.”
When we are treated like a servant, do we act like we have been robbed? Do we feel slighted? If so then we are grasping.
When God became a man he did not come to us as a celebrity - he came to us as a nobody - just another face in the crowd.
Jesus humbled himself, even to the point of death on the cross.

Jesus allowed himself to be falsely accused, wrongly condemned, viciously tortured and then executed though he had the power and the right to defend himself, he did not. In an instant he could have called on 12 legions of Angels
(Mat. 28) and brought the whole Roman Empire to its knees...but he didn't. He remained humble to his last breath.

If ever there was an example of true humility - Jesus is it and we are called to be conformed to him in his humility.

Beware of False Humility
It is possible to bend over backwards for everyone and sacrifice your time, your dignity, your sanity all for the wrong reasons.
It might be that such deeds are done out of a hunger for glory.
Pastors are especially in danger of this - for it is so easy for pastors to desire the approval and praise of men - to pat ourselves on the back for spending 65 hours serving the church, or for going to the hospital at 3AM for an emergency visit.
The sacrifices of ministry can become self-serving and self-glorifying. Thats not why God calls men to be pastors!
He calls them to a job that may or may not be appreciated by those he serves. For when a pastor begins to feel unappreciated, and unrecognized for his service, he is on the fastrack to burnout!
And this is something the members of the church need to hear as well. Serve wholeheartedly in humility, not for recognition, not for vain-glory, but for the glory of Jesus and for no other reason. When you dont get the praise - you won't be dissapointed.
When our attitudes become cruciformed - then unity becomes natural.
When paul says be like-minded - what he is saying is all of you think and act like Jesus - have his mind and then unity will follow and you will be able to stand firm as one man contending for the faith. Not only this but you will experience a joy and a peace like no other - being united in Christ unites you with other believers into a fellowship of love like no other.
And having a cruciformed attitude also promises somehting else: glory.
The Glory that Awaits Us
vs 9 starts with the word "Therefore". And as R.C. Sproul says: when you see the word "therefore" you must ask what is the therefore, there for?
Here's what: "Because Jesus emptied himself, made himself nothing, took on the nature of a human servant, became obedient to death on a cross - God has responded to all that he has done by exalting him to the highest place and by giving him the name that is above every name.
Remember Jesus' words in Mat 23:12 - he who exalts - humbled - he who humbles - exalted. The exaltation of Christ is a direct result of Christ's humiliation and especially his obedience to death on the cross - he has therefore been rewarded for his tremendous sacrifice.
Also, he was exalted so that "at the name of Jesus - every knee should bow and every tongue confess - Jesus is LORD to the glory of God the Father." So make no mistake - Jesus is and has always been God for thats what it means to bow and confess Jesus is LORD - you are saying he is God. And if you are among those who have bowed the knee and confessed Jesus is Lord, you cannot at the same time grasp at glory for yourself.  Jesus did not grasp at glory - he had glory bestowed upon him. And he has promised to share his glory with us - yes it is true.
Rom. 8:17 "we share in [Christ's] sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." And that "our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (v18)

CLOSER: When we consider all that Christ has done for us and all that he has promised to us - grasping at glory becomes a very silly thing. Going through life with a BAD attitude is suddenly shown to be a very self-centered way of life. Such attitudes cause division, rivalry. Basically this kind of attitude allows us to live in our own little bubble - our own world which is not how Christ wants us to live. Let's drop the bad attitude and instead have the same attitude as Christ and look forward to the day when HE will invite us to share in the glory he has received.

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