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The Choice Between Noble or Needful - Pastor Stacey Shiflett

The Choice Between Noble or Needful

Philippians 1:20-26


Intro: Paul’s earnest expectation and hope in verse 20 sets up the following verses in a way that we should all be willing to echo.

If we had to have a life’s verse, this would be a good one.


A. The Inspiration that we should Declarevs. 20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope

I am inspired just by the importance of living with a personal earnest expectation and hope for myself.

Paul wasn’t being hounded by someone that had personal expectations and hope FOR him.

He had this expectation and hope for himself.

QUESTION: Do you have ANY earnest expectations and hope for your own personal walk with God?

Are you adequately motivated by the prospect of the Judgment Seat of Christ?

Are you properly motivated by a desire to grow and draw closer to God?


NOTE: Paul didn’t just have an earnest expectation and hope of himself.

He had one for the Christians in the church of Philippi. See 1:6

· Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ:


B. The Introspection that we should Desire“…that in nothing I shall be ashamed…”

Imagine a life where we can honestly say that in nothing we are ashamed.

Living with a clear conscience.

Living our life with full submission to God’s Word and God’s will.

Living our life so that we are not ashamed and intimidated at the presence of God, like Adam in the Garden.

We are not running from or hiding from, but running to God with open arms and a clean conscience!


Notice Paul’s prayer for the church of Philippi in chapter 1:

· 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

· 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;


C. The Intention that we should Duplicate

I am sure of one thing.

Christ can only be magnified in our body if we are willing NOT to be.

We cannot magnify our self and Christ at the same time.

John the Baptist knew this. That’s why he said:

John 3

· 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

· 31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.


Lessons from this passage:


I. The Significance of the Choice

This whole lesson is about choices.

I want to focus in this session on the fact that being involved in ministry requires you to make choices.

The ministry is filled with choices.

We must constantly weigh out the long-term benefits of every single choice.


Notice Paul’s statement in verse 22 – “…yet what I choose I wot not…”

He realized that he had to make a choice.

WOTto know or to recognize

It was a choice that he had to think about.

It may not be immediately obvious.

What you have to choose may not be immediately clear, but one thing IS clear – you MUST make a choice.

For example:

1. You must choose to be in ministry.

· Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;


2. You must choose who you minister to and where you will minister.

Philippians 1

· 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

· 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

· 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.


3. You must choose to what extent you will be in ministry.

There are different levels of ministry.

There are different mindsets in ministry.

· Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.


Paul had an imaginary set of scales in his mind.

He had two choices.

You can’t always do BOTH things.

You have to choose.


II. The Sacrifice of the Choice

Sacrifice is a requirement.

You have not chosen to serve others until you’ve chosen to deny self.

You cannot be a spiritual, Christ-like servant and self-centered at the same time.

If you are not ready to sacrifice, you’re not ready to serve.


Mark 8

· 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

· 34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.


Jesus is not handing out any padded, designer crosses.

They are all hard, rugged and result in shame and death.

If you are more preoccupied with what YOU WANT to do than what OTHERS NEED you to do, you can’t minister.


THE EXAMPLE OF PAUL in Philippians chapter 1

Paul the Apostle is setting an example of what it means to be more concerned about the NEEDS of others than his own desires, regardless of how NOBLE they may be.


We’ve got a generation of people that won’t give up things that are UNSCRIPTURAL in order to be used of God to meet the needs of others.

They won’t change their lifestyle ONE IOTA in order to meet a standard of service. If they have to choose between doing what they want to do, or serving God in their local church, they choose self.

· They won’t even entertain giving up something in order to serve.

· They want to argue and debate whether it is wrong or not.

· They don’t see anything wrong with what they are doing.

· They are not going to raise their standard.

· Rather, they act offended that the church doesn’t lower its standard to allow them to serve.


We are light years beyond giving up tattoos, beer, immodest clothing and worldly music in order to serve.

I want to take it a step further.

Paul was willing to give up going to Heaven and being with Jesus in order to serve others.

Is whatever you’re unwilling to give up more noble than that?

Is what you’re hanging onto more biblical than that?


I have no problem ministering TO people that don’t get it.

But I have no desire to minister WITH people that don’t get it.

If we are going to effectively and biblically meet the needs of others, we must sacrifice our own desires.


We are talking about being willing to give up things that are RIGHT in order to meet the NEEDS of others.

Paul was willing to sacrifice something that was FAR BETTER in order to stay and do what was NEEDFUL for others.


THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS in Philippians chapter 2

Jesus gave up Heaven for us. – see Philippians 2:6, 7

· Jesus gave up sitting in Heaven with God to living on earth with man.

· He gave up His throne for a manger.

· He traded an angelic choir for murderous mobs shouting Crucify Him!

· He exchanged the company with the Father for the company of men that argued and slept when He was praying.

He made The Choice Between Noble or Needful.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus!!


III. The Surety of the Choice

  • 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

Once Paul made the decision, it was set in stone.

“Having this confidence…” is a far cry from “…yet what I choose I wot not…”

There was no waffling.

There were no second guesses.

There was no back and forth with Paul.

He knew what he needed to do, and he made the decision.


Jesus addressed this problem when teaching His disciples.

· Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.


A. The Dogmatic Emphasis – No man – without exception

You are not an exception.

I never cease to be amazed at how many Christians think they are the exception to all the rules for ministry.


B. The Distracted Effort

Notice this key statement – “…having put his hand to the plough…”

As far as I know, there is not a plough in the world that you can run with one hand.

This man has one hand on the plough, meaning he’s half-hearted in his effort.


· Looking back means you’re missing what you left behind.

· Looking back means you miss the OLD YOU before you got saved and started growing in the Lord.

· Looking back means you are serving God with an element of regret over what you left.

· Looking back means wishing you had whatever or whoever is in your past.

· Looking back means you’re distracted from the PRESENT ENDEAVOR by thinking of your PAST ENJOYMENTS.

· Looking back means you’re thinking more about the COST than you are the CAUSE.

QUESTION: What are you looking at??


C. The Disqualifying Elimination – not fit

FIT: useful

Meaning you are useless; not able to meet the demands

People in ministry that are constantly thinking about they had to leave behind are not worthy.


God’s standard for commitment is clear – all or nothing.

Get in or get out; but stop ploughing with one hand, looking over your shoulder!!


Conclusion: Paul was confident that the sacrifices and choices he made would be worth it.

Notice verses 25 and 26.

· 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

· 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.


When our lives are motivated by the furtherance and joy of faith of others, we are on the right track.

When our lives are filled with the rejoicing of others, rather than our own, we are getting close to having the mind of Christ.



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