1.In what relationships/areas of your life do you experience conflict the most? How are those conflicts affecting you?
2. Are you competitive? Do you think of yourself above others? Would the people who love you say you have an issue with criticizing? Of these three struggles, which is the most difficult for you?
3. How many times in a day do you think you complain? If you wrote down every time you complained for 24 hours and then looked over the list, do you think you might be surprised by what you see? How can you shift your focus away from complaining?
Good morning Hope City! My name is Peter and I’m the pastor here at Hope City… I hope that you’re glad to be here this morning, I know that we’re glad to have you here! In fact, I know that you have multiple choices of where you could be this morning. You could be anywhere… and here you are. We think that’s a great choice!
Also, can we just acknowledge something? Yesterday was the Sisterhood Brunch, and we had 144 women at that event… It was an amazing day for the Hope City Sisterhood… As your pastor I’m so excited to see women banding together to support one another, to encourage each other and grow in their faith together. God is moving powerfully in the life of our women here… It gets me excited!
Last week we kicked off our series, “Multiple Choice”… we discovered that every day you make on average 35,000 decisions… we asked the question, “What would it look like for our decisions to increase the joy we experience in life?” In fact, we’ve dedicated 4 weeks to doing just that. Learning and discovering how we can grow in JOY! WHO WOULDN’T LOVE THAT? Does anyone want to be a little more joyful? Of course you do…
Last week we talked through some of our biggest Joy Killers, and how to deal with them. We said that YOUR CHOICES CREATE YOUR LIFE. Today I want to tackle one more of these Joy Assassins, and that is the deadly assassin of CONFLICT. CONFLICT IS A JOY KILLER…
4 little words that can set me off. We need to talk. I’ll never forget when my boss emailed me on a Thursday afternoon late and said when you get into the office on Monday, we need to talk. 4 little words that ruined my weekend. They put my stomach in knots, and my appetite on hold. It was obvious that there was conflict… there was something happening that needed to be addressed.
NOTHING KILLS JOY QUICKER THAN CONFLICT.
A few weeks ago, Tiffany and I had some conflict… it was stupid really. I had already planned on going fishing with my Father in Law that afternoon, but something didn’t feel right for me to go fishing while we were in conflict with one another. One of the things that I’ve learned is that when we experience a relational rift, my ability to experience joy in other areas is limited. Conflict is a limiting factor!
It was going to take work to recover and restore our relationship in order to fully enJOY the day.
I know I’m not alone… Think about your life. Where do you experience the most heartache and what hijacks your joy more than anything else? My hunch is that it is often conflict!
What happens when you go into WORK and you have to deal with those people who make it hard to show up to work? You know the ones who seem to have it out for you and for your job. Maybe even worse, these are the people who make it their job to make your job worse. There’s conflict there.
Or what about PARENTING? Ever have any conflict in parenting? I’m talking to every age and stage of parent. All of you. Whether your kid is in diapers or if they’ve disappeared off to college, parenting is hard, but it is made even harder when we are in conflict with our children.
CONFLICT CONSTRICTS JOY….
This is what leads the Apostle Paul to write Philippians 2, that’s page *** in the Bible’s around you. Paul is writing to the church at Philippi which is a wealthy Roman city… And He is writing them from prison… don’t forget that. So everything you are about to hear is not from someone who is sitting on top of the FORBES 400 list. Rather, he’s sitting in the bottom of a Roman prison awaiting possible execution, and he says, Here’s how you have JOY!
Paul knows that if we’re to have real joy, lasting joy, it’s going to start by kicking conflict…
Look with me at Philippians 2.
2If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.i Phil 2:1-2
Paul reveals a critical part of what it means to experience Joy. In fact, he says that it will help produce HIS joy as well. He says, it’s about your mind! Your mind directly impacts your joy, and the joy that others will experience. Paul uses the word IF 4 times… Pay attention to this, because this is going to give us a clue as to what comes next. He says, IF you’re encouraged by Christ, If you’ve been comforted by His love, IF you have fellowship with the Spirit, and if you’ve experience God’s compassion in your life… THEN… THEN… Here’s what you should do… be like minded!
Paul understands something… YOUR MINDSET MATTERS
Your mindset matters when you approach your relationships. Think about those people who are closest to you. What you think about them, determines what you will do when you’re in conflict with them.
Your mindset towards work defines what you will do when it gets tough, or discouraging, or challenging.
What’s your mindset towards your kids? You know, and I know that we’re supposed to say we love our kids indefinitely and that there are no bounds on a parent’s love…. But in my day, I’ve seen parents who have shifted their mindset towards their kids, and it has fractured their relationship with their children.
Your mindset matters because it shapes the outlook and often the outcome of your situation. Here in Philippians 2 Paul is going to give us 6 steps to CURB CONFLICT, and RESTORE JOY in your life.
Look at verse 3…
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.ii
DO NOTHING out of selfish ambition… Selfish ambition, or as another translation puts it, COMPETITION. As a kid you were involved in sibling rivalries… these were the things where you would try to outshine the other siblings. You’d do better in school, on the field, or in the yard. You’d run faster, go farther, and do just about anything else to compete against your sibling. That was when you were young though right? You’re older now, and wiser… 😉 You’re above all that kind of competition. Paul is encouraging us if we’re going to curb conflict and restore joy we must 1. DEFUSE COMPETITION.
Defuse means to reduce the tension, strain and anger. We have seen countless movies where the bomb tech with the steadiest of hands avoids catastrophe by defusing the bomb… we love these moments in movies… but what if you defused the competition in your life. Imagine how much more JOY you would be able to experience.
James 4:1-2 says, “What causes fights and quarrels? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but you don’t get it.”
He’s saying that the first cause of conflict is competing desires. Our society teaches us instant gratification. When my needs conflict with your needs, we have trouble. We live in a very competitive world. If you want to have JOY you’ve got to diffuse unhealthy competition.
Paul gives us step 2 by saying,
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.iii
Conceit is at it’s very core a PRIDE issue. Paul is saying, don’t do anything just to show off your ego… Conceit and PRIDE lead to I issues. It’s all about I… I am… I AM the greatest… I AM the best… I AM… You want the world to know all about YOU. Paul says to grow in Joy, step two is to 2. DELETE CONCEIT. When I’ve got an ego and refuse to admit it when I’m wrong it just breeds conflict. If you could eliminate ego you would solve most of the people problems in today’s world. 10 years ago this fall, Kanye West stepped onto a stage at an MTV awards show and felt that His voice needed to be heard over that of anyone else. In the midst of Taylor Swifts acceptance speech he grabs the mic out of her hand and proceeds to share HIS thoughts. It was an outrageous display of EGO. But fast forward 10 years later, this fall… Kanye releases an album called catch this… not Kanye is King, but JESUS IS KING.
I’ve had his song, GOD IS on repeat lately… Because I’m reminded that God can do anything… Listen to the words from Kanye’s song– God IS…. Watch this…
God has changed this man’s life. Kanye is on a mission. He is publicly declaring what God has done for him. He’s released the captives from prison, and He is speaking through this album JESUS IS KING…. This is what can happen when you DELETE CONCEIT.
But Paul doesn’t stop there… that’s not enough.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.iv
Paul is explicit when he says, in Humility consider others better than yourself. When He says better, he isn’t saying SUPERIOR. He means that others are worthy of respect. You’re not to put them down, but rather treat them better than yourself. In our country we have made sport out of elevating ourselves. We have turned this into an art form.
And the way that we do this is by being critical of them, or criticizing them. I’m taller, I’m faster, I’ve got more Instagram followers, THEREFORE they must be…
If we’re going to increase our Joy and kill conflict, we must #3. DECREASE CRITICISM. Anytime I’m critical of somebody else in a judgmental attitude, I’m playing God. The problem is that it’s fun to criticize. It’s one of the choices that we really enjoy. We like to criticize and pick out faults of other people because it makes us feel superior. We think we build ourselves up by putting other people down. The Bible says the exact opposite. If you want to get rid of conflict in your life, decrease criticism. Stop judging other people.
Paul keeps going with his relentless pursuit of destroying conflict amongst people… verse 4
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. v
Don’t just be interested in your own stuff. Take the time to listen to others. Have you ever been around people who you can tell the moment that you begin to talk about your stuff their eyes glaze over? It’s like the only time they are engaged in the conversation is when it is their voice doing all the talking. Paul says that if we’re going to restore relationships, and decrease conflict, we need to #4 DEMONSTRATE CONSIDERATION. Pay attention to the needs of other people! Have you ever thought that maybe your conflict with someone else is due to the fact that you are inconsiderate?
This past week, Tiffany was in some pain, she mentioned something to me about it. But I didn’t say anything to her. I didn’t check back in with her, and it would appear that I was inconsiderate… not caring. Thinking only about myself. And guess what, my lack of consideration of her feelings caused conflict and tension. Increase your experience of Joy by demonstrating consideration.
Paul then says,
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: vi
He’s getting ready to drop one of the N.T.’s richest summaries of the Gospel…
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. vii
Paul says, we should have our attitudes be like that of Christ Jesus. In other words we should 5. DEVELOP CHRISTLIKENESS.
Jesus was a master at relationships. He is our model and great example. If you want to know how to get along with people, even those who are hard to get along with, look at Jesus. Get the same attitude that He had. What did Jesus do? He didn’t demand His rights, but He gave them up… He allowed God to defend His rights. He served others. He took on the nature of a servant. And He was willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.
In order for you to get along with other people you must grow more and more like Jesus Christ. Every day when I consciously choose to put somebody else’s rights before my own, to serve another, to build people up instead of tearing them down, to sacrifice for the benefit of others I am becoming more like Jesus Christ.
The last thing that Paul says that we need to do if we are going to grow in our Joy is this, verse 14:
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing,viii
Did you know that when we complain or groan about things, that our brains release a stress hormone that harm your cognitive ability to solve problems? This also happens when we listen to someone else complain. Paul understands that if we’re going to grow in JOY…. We must 6. DROP THE COMPLAINTS.
We have a choice… a choice to complain about our situation, or to choose another view. As Christians we believe that God is in control of all things, including even those circumstances that we may find unpleasant and undesirable. When we complain and grumble, we are telling everyone around us that we think God is doing a very poor job, and, if that if we were given the opportunity, we could do much better at running our life.
If we are not careful, complaining can become a way of life with us: the weather is not what we would like it to be; people don’t treat us the way they should; your kids teachers don’t handle things correctly… this list goes on.
IF YOU WANT TO GROW IN YOUR JOY YOU MUST ELIMINATE CONFLICT. It comes down to this choice. You have multiple choices on how you deal with conflict. Remember that Conflict keeps you from people, Jesus restores and unites people.
God has meant for you to experience JOY, to live a life of Joy… too often we get in the way of our joy. We mess it up by staying stuck in conflict. Resolve your conflict. If you’re in conflict with someone, don’t stay in conflict. Would you take a step today? Maybe something needs to change in you… maybe something needs to change between you and another person. Or maybe something needs to change between you and God. Maybe you feel God drawing you closer to himself. And He’s saying, trust me…. Trust Me, I’ve got a better plan for your life than you could have ever imagined. Place your faith in me, experience REAL LIFE CHANGE, experience REAL JOY.
Today you’re going to hear the stories of some of my friends who are getting baptized and you’ll hear about how Jesus has changed their life, and how He has made them NEW! They’re not perfect, but they are God’s work in progress.
This morning maybe you want to be baptized. Today can be your day… we would love nothing more to help you take that next step in your journey of faith.