Sermon Discussion - Philippians 1:3-11

Hey discussion leaders! There should be more than enough here for a discussion to get going, so feel free to pick and choose whichever ones stand out the most to you. Hope it’s a blessing.
Thought provoking question:

When something difficult enters your life, are you more prone to act first and ask questions along the way, or are you someone who spends a lot of time contemplating your next move?

Similarly, when difficulty enters your life, are you more prone towards prayer or towards distancing yourself from God? Has there ever been a circumstance in your life that was difficult at the time but you are thankful for it now?

In the sermon, love was defined thusly: “the overflow and expansion of joy in God that meets the needs of others.” What do you think of this definition?

Assuming this definition is correct, when Paul prays for our love to abound more and more, how would that look? Read Philippians 2:1-11 and discuss the above definition and Paul’s prayer in light of that.

Does your joy in God compel you to serve others? Why, why not? How do you think The Crossing is doing at experiencing joy in God and love for others? Where can we improve?

Think through Paul’s sequence of how his prayer unfolds from abounding love (v.9) culminating in the glory and praise of God (v.11). How do you understand these parts relating to each other? Describe the difference between mere knowledge about God and knowing God. How do you read the Bible in such a way to ensure that you are getting to know God, and not merely facts about him?

For the above question, here are some reminders on definitions:

  • Knowledge is epignōsis, meaning knowledge from experience.
  • Discernment is aisthēsis, meaning moral clarity, seeing things the way God sees them
  • Approve what is excellent indicates choosing the best of several good options
  • Purity/sincerity is eilikrinēsmeaning purity of motivation, not self-seeking
  • Blameless is aproskoposmeaning not causing others to stumble
  • Rigteousness, in the case of Philippians 1:11, indicates practical righteousness

In the sermon, the three things needed for the fruit of righteousness were to be planted, to be pruned, and to know the love of the Gardener. Read John 15:1-5 and discuss how planting, pruning, and love help us grow.

At the end of the sermon, it was argued that God’s act of love toward us was seen at the end of verse 11, “to the glory and praise of God.” Why would God need to be glorified? How does God’s glory relate to our love (this is similar to the above sequence question)?

Read the following quote and discuss how it relates to the above definition of love:

“God is the one being for whom self-exaltation is the most loving act, because he is exalting for us what alone can satisfy us fully and forever. If we exalt ourselves, we are not loving, because we distract people from the one Person who can make them happy forever, God. But if God exalts himself, he draws attention to the one Person who can make us happy forever, himself. He is not an egomaniac. He is an infinitely glorious, all-satisfying God, offering us everlasting and supreme joy in himself.” (John Piper)

Unbelievers are capable of doing all sorts of loving things, but in the sermon it was stated: “If you look into the heart of God and don’t see his love for you, then you will never be able to joyfully go out and genuinely love and serve other people.” What would distinguish Christian love from love expressed in service by unbelievers?