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How To Be A Difference Maker

How To Be A Difference Maker

 

Around Christmas time one of the movies on TV is, "Itís A Wonderful Life", staring Jimmy Stewart. In the movie Jimmy plays a man named George Bailey. George has big dreams of going to college and being a world traveler. Instead, he winds up having to take over his fatherís building and loan, which is more like a charity than a business. George becomes so disappointed in what he has become that one day he decides to take his own life. He says, "I wish Iíd never been born". At that moment his guardian angel Clarence intervenes and shows him what life would have been like had he never been born. His home town " Bedford Falls" would have become "Pottersville" named after the greedy old banker. His old boss the druggist would have turned into the town drunk because George wouldnít have been there to stop him from making a fatal error in a prescription. The angel shows him how many lives he touched with his life. All of us want to be like George Baily. We all want to know that our lives have counted, that we have made a difference in the lives of others. 

 

This was what Paul wanted for the Philippian Christians. In our text he says that he wants to "rejoice in the day of Christ that he has not run in vain, neither labored in vain". He wants to know that his efforts on them had not been wasted, that they had become difference makers in this world.

 

Philippians 2:14-16: 14 Do all things without grumbling of disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

 

I. THE CONDUCT OF A DIFFERENCE MAKER (14)
Just before our text, in verse 13 Paul says that God works in the believer both to will (that means giving him the desire) and to do His (Godís) good pleasure.

In our text Paul begins by saying "do all things". The Christian life is a life of doing. Itís not a life of sitting but a life of serving. We are to be "doers of the word". Faith that does not result in some kind of service is dead James says. But there is a way that we are to serve God, a manner in which we are to conduct ourselves.

"Without murmurings and disputings." The word "murmuring" means whispering, or muttering, it speaks of private complaining, grumbling. One of the most unbecoming things a Christian can be is a chronic complainer, always finding fault, never contented, never happy. 

Illustration: A monk entered a monastery in which he agreed to take a vow of silence. He could only speak two words every ten years. After the first ten years he was brought before the leader. He said, "bed hard". Ten years later he was brought before the leader again. He said, "food bad". Ten years later he was brought before the leader again. He said, "I quit". The leader said, "Well it doesnít surprise me. You havenít done anything but complain for the last 30 years."

There are some Christians who never seem to speak unless it is a word of complaint, either about their condition or about someone else, or the church. All of us have our complaints from time to time but some are constant complainers. Complainers are seldom difference makers, usually they are on the sidelines criticizing those who are making a difference. 

 

Most scholars agree that Paul is drawing a correlation in these verses between Israel and the Church. Israel was redeemed by God to be a "light unto the nations". The church was redeemed and called to be the "light of the world". Israelís greatest downfall was that of constant complaining. "Weíre tired of manna. We want meat. Weíre thirsty. God has brought us out here to die." Finally one day God sent fire from heaven to consume the complainers. 

 

When we constantly complain, we are saying, "God your provision is not good enough. Your grace is not sufficient. 

 

To overcome complaining we must begin to trust God. 

 

Serenity prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference."

 

 

 

 

 

II. THE CHARACTER OF A DIFFERENCE MAKER (15)

 

Does character really matter?

 

If we are going to be difference makers we must become people of character. Paul says we are to be:

a) blameless---Here he is speaking of who we are before men. He is saying there should be nothing in our lives that would cause others to point a finger of accusation. Iíve heard people say, "I donít care what anybody thinks about me". If you are a Christian you better care. The lost world is looking for something to discredit your testimony so they can reject your savior with a good conscience. Ghandi said, "I donít refuse Christianity because of the Christian Scriptures but because of Christians". 

When Paul stood before the governor Felix and preached the gospel to him the bible says, "He reasoned of righteousness and temperance and judgment to come and Felix trembled". Here was a man that was under severe conviction. But listen to what he did. "He answered, Go thy way for this time. When I have a convenient season I will call for thee." Now listen to what his motives were. "He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul that he might loose him wherefore he sent for him the oftener and communed with Him." Felix was just waiting for Paul to offer a bribe and in so doing to discredit the Gospel and relieve his conviction. We must be unblamable.

b) Unmistakable---He says, "children of God". We are to be unmistakable children of God. What is it that primarily identifies us as children of God?  LOVE. - (John 13:35) "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another"

 

III. THE CONTEXT OF A DIFFERENCE MAKER (15):

 

Where are we to live this life? In the walls of the church, at youth functions, at church socials. Yes, but not just there. Paul tells us. 

"in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation among whom ye shine as lights in the world." We are supposed to live this life right in the middle of a crooked and perverse nation.

 

George W. Truett. Wrote a book with a chapter entitled "The Prayer Jesus Refused to Pray". Out of curiosity I read it. It was a reference to the high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17 where he prayed for us, "I pray not that you would take them out of the world, but that you would keep them from evil."

 

Church, it is time that we realize why we are here. If our ultimate purpose for being here was to worship God, then God would have immediately transported us to heaven when we were saved because in heaven worship is perfect. If our ultimate purpose for being here were to fellowship with one another, God would have immediately transported us to heaven where we could fellowship for eternity. God has left us here that we might "shine as lights in the world".

 

The bible never teaches that we are to bring people to church. The bible teaches that we are the church, and we are to take the church to the people. 




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