Why must #Christians seek to be harmonious with one another?
Philippians 2:1-2 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”
One certain and abiding truth in life is this: Where there is more than one person gathered, there will be, even if only on occasion, disharmony. Humanity in its fallen state has a propensity toward self-centered behavior. After all, we can really only naturally see any situation from our own perspective. It takes effort and a full desire to deny this perspective in order to see from someone else’s vantage point. Consequently, we rely on the abilities of Christ and the Holy Spirit in us to do so. The Philippian church was a wonderful church and very dear to Paul’s heart. However, they were dealing with some internal issues (4:2), which is understandable given that like all churches, it was “one body which has many members.” (Romans 12:4) This church began with a sophisticated wealthy businesswoman, a Roman military soldier, and a young slave girl who had been into the occult. There was bound to be some friction! Paul was reminding them, as he is us, to look to what we have received in Christ—mercy, love, grace, and forgiveness—along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to live in unity and harmony with our brothers and sisters. Yes, it is difficult and sometimes painful, but the end result is a body that lovingly and purposefully demonstrates the glory of its Maker to a world that must see Him through them.
Study/Meditation: With whom in the body of believers do you struggle to live in harmony? In what ways will you seek do so?
*Father, thank You for making me a member of Your body. Help me to live in harmony with them, forgiving and showing mercy as You have done for me. Amen.
#Christians can expect and should not be #afraid of opposition.
Philippians 1:28 “…and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”
It’s amazing that sometimes Christians are surprised when people don’t like them. However, the truth is that our service and devotion to our Savior and King will cause us to have enemies in this world. In many, many circles, religion and spirituality are perfectly acceptable topics, but the minute the name of Jesus enters the conversation, all bets are off! Paul used a word that we translate as “frightened.” It was used to describe a startled horse. Paul is basically saying the same thing he said in 1 Peter 4:12, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” In other words, we shouldn’t be frightened or surprised when people in the world don’t like us, even to the extent that they become our enemies. The very idea of Jesus Christ stands boldly against all that is natural in fallen man. His place as King of kings and the only means by which man might be saved negates all pretenses that man can either make or find his own god. As a matter of fact, Paul assures us that when man opposes the Christ, “It is a sure sign of their destruction,” while it is also a sure sign of our salvation. We shouldn’t be surprised at opposition because we expect it, and we shouldn’t be frightened because we know that in Christ we have been promised eternity.
Study/Meditation: Read what Paul wrote in his beautiful Triumph Song, Romans 8:31-39. How does this passage encourage you not to be either afraid of those who may stand against you in the name of Jesus?
*Father, thank You for giving me assurance in Jesus. Help me to stand against those who are enemies of the cross with this assurance without fear. Amen.
How can #competition be destructive between #Christians?
Philippians 1:27b “(Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ), so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”
As humans, we are often prone to competition and individualism. These are certainly not bad traits, but they can be destructive, especially to unity within the church. When we don’t see the value and necessity of “standing firm” and “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” then we become one weak strand along with many other weak strands—easily broken and destroyed by the world and its deceptions. Together, however, we are woven into a strong chord, one that cannot be easily broken or frayed. Paul was concerned that the Philippian church be able to stand against the persecutions and trials they were enduring and no doubt would continue to endure. When he used the word “striving,” he was using the Greek word “sunathleo” from which we get our word “athletics.” The picture is of an athletic team, working and striving together toward one common goal. That goal for the church is the “faith of the gospel.” The human characteristic of competition when applied to the church sets us against members of our own body, whether those members are worshipping with us in the same building on Sunday morning or in another gospel-centered gathering across town. Once again, when the center is Christ, then all need for goals focused on anything else fall by the wayside in favor of the advancement of His gospel.
Study/Meditation: Read what Paul wrote to the Roman church in Romans 12:3-8. How does this passage relate to the truths Paul wrote in Philippians 1:27?
*Father, thank You for my local church and for the fellowship of believers I have. Help me to see all the ways in which I can strive together with them for the advancement of the gospel. Amen.
What does living as a #citizen of #heaven look like while here on earth?
Philippians 1:27a “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Philippi was a Roman colony, and the people there took pride in their Roman citizenship. Even though they were 800 miles from Rome, they answered to Roman authority; they followed Roman laws. Paul was speaking to their unique sense of citizenship. The phrase he used for “manner of life,” also translated as “conduct yourselves,” literally meant “live as citizens” in the original Greek. Paul was saying that no matter where we live geographically, we must conduct ourselves as citizens of our homeland, namely heaven. Everything about the Christian life must mirror those things worthy of our Lord. We live to serve and please our King. It is inordinately sad when the church blends in with the world around it in matters of morality and behavior. Whereas we are called to be a part of the world so that we might share the gospel with it (1 Corinthians 9:20-23), we are to behave always as citizens of heaven, distinctly holy and set apart. As Paul stated elsewhere, we are to be ambassadors for Christ, representing the heavenly kingdom in all that we do. (2 Corinthians 5:20) After all, how can we draw others to the freedom only given in Christ if we are still living in bondage to the very same things from which we wish to see them freed?
Study/Meditation: Read Galatians 5:16-26. What does Paul say in this letter about a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ”?
*Father, forgive me for the times when I do not live as one set apart as holy unto You. Give me wisdom and discernment to see the areas in my life where I must repent and live as a citizen of heaven. Amen.
#Joy comes when we glory in #Christ and advance His kingdom.
Philippians 1:25-26 “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.”
What is ardently clear in verses 22-26 of Philippians 1 is that Paul’s only and central concern was the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course he would rather be with Jesus, but he equally wanted to remain with the church here on earth, so that through his work he could to build them up in order to bring more and more glory to God. When he said, “Convinced of this,” the language does not suggest that he had some supernatural revelation that he would escape death. More it suggests that he felt it deep inside, and that he had the abiding impression that his work on earth was not quite finished. However, instead of focusing on how or what Paul knew, it is so much more vital that we see on what and whom he was focused. Everything was about Christ for Paul, bringing His Savior glory and honor, and all to “progress and joy in the faith.” You see, Paul knew what so many of us either need to realize or at the very least, need to remember: The only avenue to joy is in sanctification and the advancement of the gospel in and through our lives. Paul loved the Philippians, and in this love he wanted them to experience peace and joy. He knew that Jesus was the only way to these precious states, so in his undaunted devotion to the gospel and love for his readers, he wanted from his life or death only those things that would serve to advance both. Do you seek joy today? If the answer is yes, then seek Jesus and seek to advance His glory, and joy will come. In fact, this is the only place where joy truly exists.
Study/Meditation: Where do you typically seek joy in your life? In what ways can you either change those ways to be about Christ or alter them to be so?
*Father, thank You for providing joy in my life through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to see the ways in which I can advance Your glory through the gospel. Amen.
Where is true #joy?
Philippians 1:22b-24 “Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”
In these short sentences, Paul exemplifies what it means to be “in Christ” as described in verse 21. He has already written to the Philippian church in verse 18, “I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.” He was encouraging them even as he was near death and in chains that his joy remained, not because of his circumstances, but in spite of his circumstances. How? Because this man knew that joy is a state of mind that revolved around his Savior. This is a man of God whose entire focus was Christ. He said in verses 22-24 that he was torn between two equally enticing desires—to either leave this world and so be with his Lord personally, or to stay in this world and continue steadfastly and joyously in His Lord’s work. He didn’t look to death with fear and angst; nor did he look to his life and wish for death. The point is that when we find our purpose in Christ, our situations—no matter what they are—do not constitute our joy in Him. Our joy is in whatever serves and glorifies the One to whom we belong. When Jesus is your life, then your life can only bring joy. Doesn’t that sound enticing? Don’t we all wish for such contentment in the midst of pain and sorrow and death? If you answered yes to those two questions, then there is good news. There is no secret formula you must uncover or an exclusive club to which you must belong. If you are a Christian, then this life is available to you. You simply need to look to Christ, focus on Him, and live for Him. In short, then, you’ll find constant joy in Him.
Study/Meditation: What is your attitude about joy? How can Paul’s attitude in his letter to the Philippians help you find the joy you seek now?
*Father, thank You for the biblical examples we have such as Paul. Help me see the ways in which I can live now so as to know only joy in You and Your Son. Amen.