State of the Flock (Philippians #11)

Text: Philippians 2:16-24

The theme of this sermon comes from verses 19 and 20.  When it came to the Philippians Paul wanted to know your state and care for your state.

The illustrations for this sermon come easy in our rural community.  Most of you have or have had small herds and flocks of animals. The point of that flock or herd is that it will have productive value: meat, milk, eggs, wool, genetics, whatever product you’re looking to produce.  If they aren’t productive it’s time to change ownership or butcher them.

When we talk about flocks and herds here, we’re illustrating people in this context.  The Lord told four of the disciples you’ll no longer catch fish but men, meaning you’re being promoted to bigger things, particularly the souls of men.  David was taken from shepherding his dad’s flocks to shepherding the people of Israel. It’s one thing to catch fish, but another to catch men. It’s one thing to herd sheep, but another to herd men.  It’s one thing to encourage production in the flock and another to encourage production in living souls of men.

Productivity (vss 16-18)

  • Going all the way back to verses 12-13 you see that salvation is not the point of salvation.
  • John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit…
  • …neither laboured in vain… (vs 16)
    • If Paul were to return to Philippi and find the word of life abandoned, his work would be in vain according to his own estimation and apparently the estimation of the Holy Spirit of God.
    • Galatians 4:11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.  Other labour is in vain, but your labour for the Lord is not.
  • Joy of productivity
    • …offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith…
    • It’s one thing to be offered on the sacrifice and service of someone’s faith.  It’s one thing to labour when there is productive value to the labour. It’s another thing to be offered on the sin and unproductiveness of professing Christians.  These verses go with the previous verses about laboring in vain.

Pastor (vss 19-24)

  • Paul’s going to send a pastor to oversee the state of the flock.
  • Proverbs 27:23 Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
  • Timothy is the pastor Paul will send.
    • The flock is not going to take care of itself.
    • Proverbs 28:2 For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.
  • This is the pastor’s job, to have oversight of the things that belong to Jesus Christ according to 2:21.  The Lord Jesus Christ looks for men who will look after the things that belong to Him.
  • Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
  • 1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. (Not an EXample, but an ENsample.)
    • Much more of his pastoral instruction is in 1-2 Timothy, but let’s briefly consider the work of an undershepherd.
    • Feed the flock in Acts 20:28 and John 21:25.
    • Control disease in 2 Timothy 2:14-19 and 1 Timothy 4:1-6
    • Oversee behavior in 1 Timothy 3:14-16
    • The point of all of this is to eliminate things that destroy production and increase those things that encourage production.
    • Genesis 30:37-43 is Jacob’s breeding program.  He uses fences to separate and congregate the flocks the way he wants them to.  So that the desired traits become the dominant traits.