Philippians 1: 21 – 30 (NLT)
21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.
25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith.26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me. 27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.
28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.”
Let’s look at these verses in a practical down-to-earth way. Here are a couple of questions:
- Paul says that he wants his life to bring honor to Christ. Further down he says he wants the Christians at Philippi to “live as citizens of heaven”. What do you think that means in very practical ways?
- Why does Paul say we should not be intimidated by non-Christian comments or actions?
Paul says that he is living to help “all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith”. This seems to be the main idea of these verses – that our faith should grow and bring honour to God – and it should be joyful. What in practical reality does that look like? It can be so easy to talk with religious words – growing in faith, bringing honour to Christ, fruitful work for Christ, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. But when it comes right down to it in the 21st Century, what does that look like? How would I know if my life is showing others what it is like to belong to Christ?
Personally, I think we know by reading the Bible and taking its instructions and advice to heart. So, that means I have to read the Bible and know what is in it. Some of what the Bible says is direct such as, “Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”. (Ephesians 4: 26 NASB) So, I know that I can be angry, but I’m not to carry anger and grudges around with me. I need to deal with whatever made me angry and get over it. An angry, bitter person doesn’t reflect what God is like.
Sometimes I learn what God is like from reading the Gospels describing Jesus’ life here on earth. I can learn how Jesus deals with things, and then that’s what I will try to do. For example, when Jesus is asked to comment on a situation when a group of angry, religious leaders bring a woman caught in adultery to Jesus to see if He will condemn her the way they do, Jesus asks them to think about their own sin, and if they think they are perfect, then they can cast the first stone. (John 8: 1 – 11) This tells me that I should hesitate before I go around judging and condemning others for the things I think they are doing wrong. I need to be aware of the sin in my own life.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NLT) says:
” You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
That is exactly what we’ve been talking about. Here’s a challenge for you:
Think of some personal quality that demonstrates what Christians should be like. Write your idea down and then see if you can find it in the Bible or figure out where you got that idea. You don’t have to have an amazing or incredibly intellectual answer. I just want you to think about something you think is important for a Christian to be like, and what in the Bible makes you think that is true. I’m just trying to get you to think about how the Bible influences what you believe is right behaviour or beliefs.
If you can’t think of a place in the Bible where the characteristic you’re thinking about is located, go to biblegateway.com and type in the characteristic you have in mind. It will give you the places in the Bible where that word appears. You can also choose your translation in the top right-hand corner, so you can use modern language.
Our song for today is I Will Follow by Chris Tomlin.