Beth Moore - Philippians 2, For This I Toil
One of the things I just love about studying, especially, like, the prison Epistles, especially the books that have a lot of commonalities, I love to think about when you see a lot of similarities in some of the wording in Colossians and Ephesians, for instance, and then you see some things in Philippians, I love to look at what's similar between them, and then I love to look at what's very different between them, and why is it? Why is it here, this is the terminology he would use? And there's a way he says it, and I memorized it in the ESV and I still just prefer it in these two verses, over any other translation, so I've got this down for you.
So this is ESV, so I want you to think about Philippians 3:12 through 14, but I wanna set 'em beside Colossians 1:28 and 29, so the very end of Colossians chapter 1: "Him we proclaim", I don't even have to tell you, you know who "Him" is. "Jesus we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me". When you're in a task that you're doing to the glory of God, to the best of your understanding, and it's taking everything you can do and you get on the other side of it and you still know you couldn't have done it, and yet you gave it everything you had, you still know only God could have accomplished it. It's the wildest thing that you'll just be, like, covered in sweat and still go, "How did you do that? How did you do that"? Because you met him in his work.
Well, here's the thing. God works really hard. In John chapter 5, Jesus said, "My Father is always at his work, always at his work". And he says, "And I too am working with him". The thing about God is he really works hard. Well, you even, just like, working with him, like, phew! You understand what I'm saying? That's part of the picture here. That's part of the picture here. And we're joining him in his work. 1 Thessalonians chapter 3, at the very beginning of it, Paul says, he talks about Timothy. He refers to Timothy as "God's co-worker in the gospel of Christ". It's so astonishing you almost don't know what to do with it. You can check it out for yourself.
Then he literally calls Timothy "God's co-worker in the gospel of Christ". And we are co-workers with God. It's ridiculous, it's absolutely ridiculous, and yet that's what we're doing. We partner in this work. It takes everything we got, and yet, we'll still sit back and go, "How did you do that? How did you do that"? So here's what you do. It's his energy but, man, are we struggling getting into that with him. But this is the end result. I promise you, based on the authority of the Word of God, that he will powerfully work in you. You join him in his work, I join him in my work, he will powerfully work in us. All right, I want us to think in very practical terms for our remaining minutes.
I want us to think about how exhausted we are. I mean, have you ever known of a time, especially just like, corporately, nationally, globally, that people have just been more worn out? And so what do we do, what do we do for energy and strength? I want to remind you of a couple of things, and, listen, when we lose faith in this, I just can't say enough. If somebody said to me after class, you know, "I just I don't believe that anymore. I just believe..." No, no, no, I'm sticking with the Word. And it says several times, God, through his Word, he refers to, "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might". He says in 2 Corinthians chapter 10:4 that we have divine power to demolish strongholds. That there is a strength that is of the Lord, it's the Lord's strength.
So let's be mindful of that when we're asking, "Lord", we're not just asking just like, "Make me stronger". We're coming before him and going, "I have no more strength. I'm not asking you to multiply my strength. I am asking you, Lord, for divine strength. I'm asking you for something that can't even come from myself". Anybody know what I'm saying? We wanna call on that. We wanna call on that divine power. Okay, I want you to think with me, here's where I want us to go. We're gonna look at a couple of things based on those two sets of scripture together. So what am I talking about? I'm talking about those three. I'm talking about 12 through 14 in Philippians chapter 3, and I'm talking about 28 and 29 in Colossians chapter 1. Looking at those side by side, what are a few things that we can say and what are a few observances that we can make, and I want it to start here: "Let these four words hit home: for this I toil".
We know we're gonna toil, right? We know we're going to. And why do we know that? We know that because of Genesis chapter 3. Now, mind you, there was already work, Adam already worked in the garden before there was ever the Fall, so work is not cursed. We don't wanna think of work as cursed. And our labors aren't cursed, but is there a lot of toil in this life? Yes, yes, there's a lot of toil in this life. I want you to really lock in on those words, "For this I toil," because life requires a lot of toil. And so here's what I wanna do with you over the next couple of minutes is figure out where some toil is going into some things that are either not valuable to us, not working, or simply have passed their season. Anybody in this with me?
I believe in fun, I believe in fun. I believe in recreation. I believe in rest. I believe rest is sacred. So I'm not talking about that we're only thinking of a life of all toil. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm saying: let's do a survey of our life, where we toil, and let's take some looks into it and think, "Is all my toil going into things that I think are valuable to put my toil into"? Is that fair? Is that fair? Okay, so here's what I want you to do. I want you to enter into these four words with me fully by saying them with me a couple of times and I want you to think this over at home, putting three different intonations on them. So we're gonna say 'em three different times, but we're gonna say 'em three different ways.
So the first time, what I wanna do is, we're gonna say, what were the four words? Tell me what they are. "For this I toil". So, here's what I wanna do. I want us, first off, 'cause we're gonna give it some thought. First of all, I want you to say it as a statement, but I want you to say it tentatively, like you're thinking that, 'cause then we're just thinking it through, hmm, hmm, kind of like this. For this I toil. This is you thinking over it. It is a statement, but you're trying to think, "What is it"? I'm gonna do a survey of... I'm gonna think this through. What is it? So I want everybody to try that. We're gonna make it a statement, but it's gonna be tentative. Everybody just say, "For this I toil". One more time, just "For this I toil".
All right, now this time, we're gonna put some sarcasm in it and we're gonna make it a question. And see, we can't get it until we do. We gotta feel all three of the intonations in order to make this happen in us. I want you to practice it at home because it's, we're not gonna be able to figure it out tonight. You're gonna need some home time, some driving time, some walking time, to think this through, because here's what comes next. "For this I toil"? See, we can't survey it without going there. "For this, are you kidding me? This is what I'm". Because you need to ask yourself that question. What are you toiling over that you could honestly go, "Why am I doing that? Why exactly am I..." So, try this with me: "For this I toil"?
C'mon. Oh, see, you're good at this one. We're better at sarcasm than we are our tentative statement. All right, try it one more time, what? "For this I toil"? We have to ask ourselves why are we working so hard at something that is hardly working? And we've got 'em all over the place in our lives. All over the place. What I'm suggesting to you is, like, we're worn out. What can go? It can't be all your rest. So quit thinking it. I can tell you almost definitely most of you are not getting enough rest, and nor am I. What are we doing? And why are we doing it? Why are we doing this? Okay, now, we said 'em the other two ways, so we've said a tentative statement, then we said as a sarcastic question.
Now I want you to think of it as a confident declaration, a very confident declaration, a statement of confident conviction of what you can say, "For this I toil". What would that be? I work hard at marriage. So does my husband. But I reach over and I look at my hand in his, and there is something so beautiful about our old hands. They're like the hands of our grandparents now. And I know "For this, for that old hand right there," his hand kind of shakes just a little bit, but I can hold it still. For that, oh yeah, I'll toil all day long for that.
Number two is this: be willing to survey the life honestly for energy drainers. Be honest with yourself, I've got to be honest with myself. Survey the life. Remember, what are we looking for, so that we can press on to what is of surpassing value. So how are we gonna do that? Well, let's survey the life, and part of it is for using those three intonations with "For this I toil". What is it, the toil of my life, is toward? What is it? There's no workplace we can't work to the glory of God, so it's not that suddenly surrendering to ministry. What is all this toil about? Being willing to survey the life honestly for energy drainers. I also like the idea, asked a co-worker of mine, says, "Should I use 'energy bleeders'"? And she said, "Well, I'd stay with drainers, but," she said, "I've got to say that that's a powerful thought". What is it that hemorrhages our energy?
What is it that hemorrhages our energy? Just hemorrhages it. And I thought of a couple of things. I thought of one of 'em that we do, I brought a little... I love visuals. Man, I love this guy. I said, you know, "Hey, Mac, where is my body that I've used a number of times"? I'm sorry, he needs a chiropractor so bad. He really, really does. But I want you to think of this as our grudge, how we nurse a grudge. Anybody understand what I mean? Because we just keep this grudge, and we're like, "Oh, I forgot about it for a few hours". We'll run over to it and take its pulse, anybody? Anybody? We'll fix it tea, we'll sit with it, especially if we're home alone 'cause then we're gonna, like... because, I mean, it's all our grudges, all our unforgiveness, just like, right here. Am I telling the truth? And we'll have that person that we just cannot stand, and we're just fixated on her and we're just fixated on him.
Now, mind you, we can't stand 'em, but everywhere we go, we wear them. Anybody know what I'm talking about? So they're just on us, and we go to work like this. We go to work like this, we play like this, we raise our children with their grandfather on our back 'cause we think about how much we hate him every day. Am I telling the truth to anybody? Your ex, right here, is in the middle of your present relationship. Why? Because you've got, he just drags behind you, right? Right? Am I telling the truth? Because everywhere we go, we just got this ghost right with us.
Do you know how much energy it takes to nurse a grudge? Do you know the mind space we'd have left to maybe even, I'm sorry, 'cause this is gonna sound so old-school, maybe even to memorize a little scripture or memorize a song. But no, we are busy. We have things to think about. We have the people we have not forgiven. And I'm gonna tell you what happens when we don't forgive a few. Then it just becomes a way of life. Then you've got a whole classroom of people that you cannot stand, that have done you wrong and that have done me wrong. Nursing a grudge, let me tell you something, that's something that takes a lot of energy.
Let me tell you something else too. Being offended over everything. It's too much. It takes too much energy to get your feelings hurt at everybody about everything. Can we just say amen to that? It's too much to look at what all offends us that somebody wrote or somebody said. We're gonna take it all up. We don't have time for that. We don't have the energy for that, to be constantly disappointed, constantly disappointed. I mean, listen, at what point are we gonna decide, "Well, why am I still disappointed 'cause I knew that was coming"? Just constant, and it's just draining us of energy. Here's a big one: trying to read people's minds. Oh, that one will just exhaust us, just absolutely exhaust us, just trying to read people's minds. Trying to fix people or situations that don't even want fixing. The energy some of us in this room and on these sides of the screen are expending trying to fix someone who does not want to be fixed.
Listen, people that are gonna get freed up are gonna have to want to be freed up. People that wanna, to get out of that addiction are going to have to really want to themselves. It doesn't matter if everybody around them wants them to be free from their addiction: if they don't wanna be free from their addiction, they're not gonna be free. They're not gonna be free. Give it up. Trying to recreate a relationship or an environment, a dynamic, that is in the past, 'cause we had some really great thing. Like, just, somebody in here's trying to get a friendship to be like it was 10 years ago. It's not gonna be. It's not gonna be. You're not even the same person as you were 10 years ago. Neither are they. Man, we've all been through the washer and dryer. We're just worn out. We have to grace one another.
Number three is this: know that fulfilling this calling is going to be a struggle and a strain. We can look at where we're making it harder than it has to be, but as to whether or not it's gonna be hard, yes, it is. I'm gonna tell you something. I get a lot of comfort out of this. You know what? Life's hard anyway. It might as well be hard, it might as well be that there's pain that's never in vain. That's what God can give you, that's what God can give me. Where he can make something of what I've been through. Make me a compassionate person, give me some humility, empathy. Doesn't have to be in vain.
And then lastly is this: know that it is exactly and exquisitely what you were created for. Your truest you is the one chasing hard after Jesus. And if you have not become that person, you don't even know the true you yet, because the truest you, the one he put on this earth to love him and pursue him as preeminent in all things, that is the real you. And everything else is just this other thing we're trying to be. But the truest you is that one chasing hard after Jesus, and I would want you to say to me: How do I know that? Well, because I know it because of Ephesians 1 and 2.
I'm not gonna read all the chapters to you but I am gonna say this: "Even as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world," that's when you were chosen, "predestined you and I for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, in him we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will".
Ephesians 2:10: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared ahead of time for us to do". What Christ has for you is what you were created to do. Who he has made you is who you were created to be. You will never be yourself until you die to yourself and start following hard after Jesus. Neither will I. It's just the irony, it is the paradox and it is the truest thing we could possibly say. "I pursue as my goal," he says, "the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Knowing him, being found in him, winning him. I will say to my dying breath, that Christ is the prize. He himself is the prize".
I wanna tell you something as we close. Last Saturday, I helped with a funeral at my church, and I was sitting up on the platform. I wasn't speaking at it, I was just helping with it. And so I was sitting up on the platform to the side, and we have a prayer altar and Communion altar in the front of our church, and it's got cushions right below it where we put our knees and we come to receive our Communion. And so it was a funeral, rather than a regular church service, but in the latter part of it, our pastor still invited those, he said, "Listen, this is the way we do this here. You are welcome wherever you've been, whatever denomination, whatever your life has been like, you are welcome to come. You don't have to, but you're welcome to come, if you would like, to receive the elements".
And so, you know, the music's playing, so I'm sitting up and I'm sitting where, like this, and so here's the altar here, and here's the audience, and you know, a funeral is a whole different dynamic than a regular service would be, because we've got, you know, what's left of the body in a container right in front and we've talked about the dead and raised for a solid hour. So you're very mindful that we will not wear this body forever. And so, he just invited people to come, and the way we do it at our church is that they just, the usher will come to that row and that's when you stand and go, and you could sit or you could go.
Well, they just flooded it. And my lip was quivering so hard, I mean, I literally nearly had to bite my lip to keep, I wanted to burst into tears because I could see their faces. And some of them, when you're at a funeral, how long, it might have been years since you've been in church, years, years. And they would come to that altar and when I tell you, kneel at it and wait, I cannot even say how many, I mean, head down, holding those hands up waiting for that bread. And then dipping it in the wine. The look of desperation and need, it about brought me down. And I thought two things to myself. I thought how very much we need Jesus. I don't care who it is, we need him.
We need a Savior because we know we can't pull it together completely. We know we haven't got it. And at a time when we're willing to be serious about it, look death in the face, we know we need Jesus so bad. But there's a part of us that fears we will not have him. Just please have mercy on me, please have mercy on me, please have, but he does. He did, and he does. We need Jesus so bad and we have him. If you want him, you have him. Our cushions at our church are brand new. So that's our altar for prayer and then our altar for the Eucharist. And I want you to know something. Those cushions were needlepointed by women at my church for 3 years. Those were not ordered on Amazon. Women at my church spent 3 years needlepointing those cushions. For this I toil.