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I Got My Own!

Scripture - Philippians 2:1-13

First, I shared with him. Then, he got his own. Finally, he shared with others.

You may be wondering, what in the world does this have to do with the Christian faith?

Well, actually a whole lot, because that is precisely how it works in the world of faith. Someone shares his or her faith with us. Then, we get our own faith. And finally, we share our faith, our hope, & our love with others.

That is what our reading from Philippians 2 is about. Paul is writing to his dear Philippian friends. He was close to them. He loved them deeply, & they loved him. It is interesting to note that this was the only church Paul would accept gifts from. He could accept gifts from them because he had such a warm & close relationship with them. He knew that they trusted him completely & that they would never be suspicious of him. They were like his very own children, & he was a father figure. Paul had taught them the faith, he had nourished them & advised them & encouraged them, & they were dependent upon him & his leadership & his counsel. And therein was the problem because Paul knew that his days on earth were numbered. He knew that soon he would be executed by the Romans, & that he would no longer be around to ‘parent’ the Philippians in the faith, that soon (very soon) they would have to grow up & stand on their own 2 feet spiritually. And so, he said to them, “I am not going to be around much longer to spoon-feed you, so you are going to have to work out your own salvation. Grow up! Stand tall! Be strong! Be mature! Take responsibility for your own spiritual life. Find your own faith, hope, & love. I will not be with you, but God will. God will be with you every step of the way, & he will see you through. I have shared my faith with you. Now it is time for you to grow up & get your own faith, so that you can share that faith with others.”

I want to point out 3 dramatic signs of spiritual maturity & ask you to check yourself in each category.

First, we need our own faith. An old story tells of a little boy who was asked why he was a Christian. He answered, “I’m not sure, but I think it runs in our family!”

It is a cute story, but we need to add a footnote, & the footnote is this: We can only ride on the coattails of our family for so long, & then each one of us individually must make his or her own decision for Jesus Christ.

Family can help us here & there, & it is great when they do; but each of us at some point has to make that personal decision to receive Christ into our own heart.

It is terrific when Grandma & Granddad are devoted Christians. It is wonderful when Mom is a committed disciple. It is fantastic if Dad is an active churchman. But somewhere along the way, I have to make my own decision, my own commitment, my own acceptance of Jesus Christ as my personal Lord & Savior.

Have you made that decision yet? Have you invited Christ into your life? Have you given him control of your life?

A 16-year old girl in Los Angeles made a mistake & shortly after realized that she was pregnant. She was terrified. Her mother was a devout Christian, & the young girl did not know how she would tell her mom. She was embarrassed, ashamed, & scared to death. She had a big problem & she did not know what to do.

That 16-year old decided that her life was over, so she boarded a bus to go to a place to end it all, but while on the bus, she heard a voice – clear as a bell – saying, “Don’t do this!” She looked around, but no one on the bus was paying her any attention. The bus was nearly empty. One passenger was asleep, & 2 others were reading, & the voice did not come from their direction anyway. Then she heard it again. “Don’t do this!”

The girl got off the bus & returned home. She told her mother everything. Her mom was great. She held her & loved her, & then her mother said, “You know who that voice on the bus was, don’t you? That was Jesus. He has a special plan for your baby.”

Eight months later, that young girl gave birth to a baby boy, & God did have a special plan for that baby. He grew up to be a minister & became the senior pastor of one of the largest, most effective & most influential churches in America.

When that minister tells the story of how the voice of Jesus saved him & his mother, he ends by quoting this hymn:

“I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus & his glory, of Jesus & his love.

I love to tell the story, because I know ‘tis true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.”

And then that minister says, Jesus saved me. He saved my life. If it were not for him, I would not be here today.

In a different, less dramatic way, I can say that too. Not as that minister describes it, but certainly in a spiritual way, I can say that too. Jesus saved me. He turned my life around. He breathed new life into me & if it were not for him, I would not be here preaching to you today.

Can you say that? Have you personally accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord & Savior of your life? Have you committed your heart, your soul, & your life to him? When it comes to faith, can you say, “I got my own!”

Second, we need our own hope. A woman was at work one day when she got a phone call that her daughter was extremely ill with a high fever. The woman left work immediately & stopped at a pharmacy to get some medication for her daughter.

When she came out of the drug store, the woman discovered that in her haste to get the medicine she had locked her keys in her car. Now she was beginning to panic. She needed to get into her car & get the medicine to her daughter, but she was locked out of her car. What could she do?

The woman remembered hearing how people could use a wire coat hanger to unlock cars. She actually found a hanger on the side of the parking lot, so she tried her best to unlock the car, but no luck. Now she really did not know what to do.

In desperation, she prayed, “O God, please send someone to help me!”

Soon an old car pulled up, parked next to her, & a huge, rough looking man got out. The woman thought, O Lord, this is who you sent to help me?

The man walked over & asked, “Can I help you? It looks like you need a little assistance.”

The woman explained about her sick daughter, how in a hurry to get some medicine she had locked her keys in her car & had been unable to open the door. She showed the man the hanger she had been using.

He took the hanger & in less than a minute, the car was opened. The woman hugged the man & said, “Thank you so very much! You are a nice man.”

He replied, “Some people sure don’t think so. I just got out of prison yesterday. I was in prison for auto theft.”

The woman hugged the man again, & crying, she cried out loud, “Thank you, God! You even sent a professional!”

That story is a modern parable for us. It reminds us that God does not always send us what we expect, but he always sends what we need. It is up to us to have the wisdom to recognize the difference & to be thankful.

That is why we Christians are people of hope, because we know that even though we will have difficulties & setbacks in life, ultimately nothing can defeat us. God wins, & he wants to share that victory with us. This is God’s promise, to always be with us & to eventually see us through. That is our hope. Even if a victory does not come to us in this life, it will come in the life to come.

But let me ask you, when it comes to hope, can you say, “I got my own?”

Third, we need our own love. Jesus taught in words & action the miracle of love, but the question is, have we really learned the lesson of love yet?

It was a beautiful fall day. A mom, dad, & their little daughter were out in the car for a ride. The weather was so nice that they rolled down the windows to enjoy the breeze & the fragrances of autumn.

Suddenly, a large bee flew into the car & started buzzing around. The little girl went into a panic because she was allergic to bee stings. If she were stung, it could lead to a coma or even death.

“Oh Daddy!” she screamed, “It’s a bee! It’s going to sting me!”

The father pulled the car over & stopped. Both parents reached into the back seat trying to wave the bee out of the car. The bee buzzed the dad & bumped into the windshield. There the father trapped the bee in his fist.

Holding it in his closed hand, the father waited for the inevitable sting. Once the bee stung his hand, in pain, the father let go of the bee. It was once again loose in the car. The little girl began to cry. “It’s going to sting me!”

The father said gently, “No, honey, it won’t sting you now. Look at my hand. The bee’s stinger is in my hand, so he can’t hurt you now.” The dad let the bee sting him to save his daughter’s life.

Jesus accepted the sting of death on the cross, & through his sacrificial love he saved us. And in that incredible act of self-giving, he taught us not only how much he loves us, but also how he wants us to love each other.

Jesus loves us sacrificially, generously, graciously, & unconditionally. And that is how he wants us to love.

Can you love like that? Do you love like that? Will you love like that?

My question to you today is this: when it comes to faith, hope, & love, can you honestly say, “I got my own?”

Let us pray. Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life & receive you as my Savior & Lord. Thank you for forgiving me of my sins & giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. May I live from this day forward with faith, hope, & love. Amen.

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