Different or Indifferent? [Phil. 1:6-11]
by Bob Young


  • Two interesting words, appear to be synonyms, but are not.
  • Sometimes one says, "What difference does it make?" That is indifference.
  • A favorite verse. Phil. 1:9, that you might discern things differing. Difference = commitment to excellence.
  • Difference = fact of distinction. Everything is not equal, all is not the same. Some things excel. Some things are better. We want to choose what is best.

    I want to make a difference. You want to make a difference. Most people want to make a difference. We want this church to make a difference. How is it possible?
    When we are uncertain of the results of our labors, we face doubt, frustration, even guilt.
    Different implies change. What will change? What will be different because of me, us, this church, our efforts. In what areas should we anticipate change? What changes would be right, proper, good? What will be different? What will change? Personal, family, evangelism, missions, increased understanding in our community, increased understanding of dynamics of church.... My answers are varied, what are your answers?
    One mark of human thinking, image of God, ability to think abstractly, consider own non- existence. What if we were not here? What would be different?
    Making a difference implies investing our lives in what matters, answering human needs, addressing the human dilemma, thinking beyond the temporal to the eternal.

    I. Discerning things differing must consider human wants/needs.

  • Sense of identification. Who am I? In distinction from others, who am I?
  • Not only who am I, but does I matter? Sense of worth, value, significance. Often in our society this is tied to work, but really is from God. God gives us our worth, human beings wish to know their worth.
  • Sense of accomplishment. Often tied to satisfying, successful job, career, etc. To understand the root of this need, we must move from success to significance.
  • Sense of well-being. This is generalized, but important.
  • Sense of community, relationships. This exists at four levels in the human experience. My relationship with myself, my relationship with my family, my relationship with those dependent on me, my relationship with the larger community. We want to experience love, to be loved, to be needed, to be part of something socially.
  • The problem in our society is that people do not have what they need/want because they are trying to get it in the wrong way, James 4:1-4.

    II. Discerning things differing must consider the spiritual dimension.

  • Many in our world wish to eliminate this consideration.
  • If your life matters, if you matter, if you know who you are, that difference is generally contingent on the difference God makes in you. If one finds some measure of answer to these basic human needs apart from God, I assure you that such will be temporary.
  • With Jesus in on our efforts in "differing", we win.
  • Without Jesus, we lose.

    III. Discerning things differing asks us to grasp that for which we were grasped (Phil. 3)
    The Bible is filled with songs of victory, pictures of soldiers and athletes, competition, warfare, battles, challenges. One of the lesser understood, although familiar, is Phil. 3, which in some sense provides a foundation and pivot for much of the other material in the book.
    Consider these goals if we realize Paul's dream for the Christian.

    Is the hope of making a difference only a pipe dream? Remember that Paul prayed for the Philippians that they would be able to discern that which is best, not just better, not just good. What are our goals in coming weeks, months. To seek the best, to find excellent, to become spiritual champions, making a difference here, and hereafter. Making a difference that will outlive us, that will continue for multiplied generations.
    Today Jan and I are "placing membership." We are committing to the elders, to the church leaders, to you. We are asking your commitment to us, and to God. We want Jesus to change us, to change us together, to discern things differing and to choose the best.

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    Last updated November 30, 2011