Text: Philippians 1:12-24
Endowment Effect or Psychological ownership is a theory that observes the sense of a person’s valuing his or her own possession. This theory has been traced since the time of the Ancient Philosopher Aristotle; he said, “For most things are differently valued by those who have them and by those who wish to get them: what belongs to us, and what we give away, always seems very precious to us.”
But because of the delicate heart that we have, this thought of owning something, making ourselves the center of everything for selfish gains, and entitlement has been a product of a marred view of self-identity, value, and purpose. We just want to put ourselves first. Just as how pop culture portrays and promotes self-love. I mean there is nothing wrong about loving yourself and valuing your life but as a Christian, I think—and biblically speaking, God calls us to go beyond this state.
Looking back, our passage today in the book of Philippians is a letter of encouragement. Hearing that, it seems that there is nothing special with it. Well… Not unless we see it from the perspective of where he wrote this letter. He wrote this letter in prison. Yes, he was in the moment of his imprisonment when he wrote this letter of encouragement. To add, he actually said “joy” or “rejoice” almost twenty times (16 times to be exact); reminding them about their joy in Christ and to rejoice despite the circumstances and hardships of life.
Selflessness: To Advance the Gospel of Christ
Despite the status of Paul being imprisoned, he made sure that it is not about himself, or his situation that will be seen but rather how God—in providence—is in control of everything.
Again, even amid that gloomy atmosphere, compared with today’s prisons, prisons during the time of Paul are messier, more miserable, and chaotic. But look at how Paul perceived this kind of situation in his life. In verses 12-14, Paul did not think about himself nor his state but rather the glorious news that the Gospel of Christ is being advanced even inside his prison. The guards were hearing about Christ. This was not the only case that Paul acted in this manner.
Self-denial: To Live and Die for Christ
As Christians, we do celebrate their lives because we know they are already in heaven and experiencing the ultimate joy that we all wait for. Like Paul, being beaten, imprisoned, and mocked—he has longed to “die” and be with Christ because it will be a greater favor for him. Richard Sibbes noted this attitude as breathtaking; he said, “[Paul] knows that Christ is wiser than he; therefore he resigns himself to his disposal, resolving if he lives, he lives to the Lord, and if he dies, he dies to the Lord (Rom 14:8); that so, whether he live or die, he may be the Lord’s.” (read 19-22)
Why did I say that my second point is self-denial? Look at verses 23-24, “I am hard-pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”
Paul desired to be with Christ soon because it will be a greater favor but he gave up his will and submitted to the plans of God. Submit your will to God. Listen and pray, be prudent, participate in it.
Supremacy of Christ
With all these characters portrayed by Paul, where did he learn these things? The answer is Jesus Christ. Paul started and ended in this passage making the glory of Christ the core reason (11, 26). Why Jesus? Did Christ demonstrate selflessness and self-denial?
1. Christ emptied himself (kenosis) – Philippians 2:1-11
2. Christ was willing to give up his life for his friend. – 1 John 3:16; John 10:17-18
3. Christ submitted to the will of the Father rather than His will. – Luke 22:42-45
4. Christ suffered for the sake of our salvation.
a. The Suffering Servant – Isaiah 53
b. Scourged – Matt. 27:26
c. Beaten – Luke 22:63-64
d. Spit upon – Matt. 27:30
e. Beard Plucked from His Face – Isaiah 50:6
f. Mocked – Matt. 27:26-29
g. Stripped Naked – Matt. 27:35
h. Nailed to the Cross – Matt. 27:38; John 20:25
Learning today, the attitude of Paul both the selflessness and self-denial were all motivated and driven by the supremacy of Christ in his life. If only we really let Christ sit on the thrones of our hearts; if only we can put Christ and others first in our deeds; if only we think less of ourselves and think more about the interests of others, only then, we can truly experience true eternal joy in our hearts.
There is joy in submission; there is joy in putting others first; there is so much joy in having Christ and letting Him govern your life. Let us pray
Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
August 29, 2021
*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.