Wishing and Hoping for the Best
As Christians, we pray for others-for their success, their well-being and for them to find the peace in Christ that passes understanding. Philippians 1:3-6 says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy . . . being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” We want what is best for our friends and associates. Also, we know God is perfect and His plans are perfect. “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever.” (Psalm 33:11 NIV) God has it covered! His plan is impeccable-it always has been and always will be.
Is it better to live or to die? Paul was faced with the dilemma of what his purpose was. In Philippians 1:21-24 Paul shares how he was torn between two desires: He longed to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for him. But for the sake of those who knew him, it would better if he continued to live. You’re still living, thus God has a purpose for you. There are those with whom you need to share the Gospel, those you need to serve in some capacity and those in whom you need to invest your life. Who will be better off because you chose to carry out God’s purpose for your life?
In his best-selling book, Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek explains that Marines line up in rank order to eat, with the most senior person at the back of the line and the most junior person at the front. While the most powerful could easily go to the front, they don’t. They put the least powerful first. This approach is unusual in our “get ahead” culture. But it looks a lot like Jesus. Hopefully, it will look a lot like us if we imitate His behavior. Paul explains it this way. “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.” Philippians 2:3 (MSG)
A difference exists between saying and doing. What we do in life speaks far louder than anything we might say. St. Francis of Assisi said “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”It is not uncommon to hear someone say, “I am at a loss for words or I just do not know what to say.” Maybe we give to much credit too the power of words. When Christ lives inside of us, our lives glow in the dark, lighting the way for others with a bright and shining example. In Philippians 2:13 we read, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Notice we are called to act, not to speak.
Cost and Value
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” Philippians 3:7 We all have prized possessions we hold close to our heart. From technological gizmos to transportation items to family treasures passed down to us, there are things in our life on which we place great importance and value. In today’s study passage the apostle Paul reminds us all those things pale in comparison to the gift God has given us through his grace and mercy. What we often consider to be valuable on this earth has absolutely no value in determining our eternal fate. What we should hold close to is the knowledge that Jesus has paved the way to our eternal joy.
The Finish Line
In Philippians 3:12–21, Paul encourages us to pursue a life dedicated to developing intimacy with Jesus, which leads to significance, purpose, and joy in this life and the life to come. In urging us to set our earthly goals on heavenly gains, he refers to this pursuit as a race to win the prize. At the foot of one of the Swiss Alps is a marker honoring a man who fell to his death while attempting to climb to the top. The marker gives his name and then the words, “He died climbing.” We should be able to say with confidence “we died climbing” as we pressed onward toward the prize of grabbing hold of Christ Jesus and living like Him.
During the past several months, accusatory and nasty campaign ads created over-the-top anxiety overwhelming many Americans. Daily concerns such as finances, holiday plans, schedules, children and a host of other worries can also easily overwhelm us. In Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV), Paul explained it this way, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” As Christians, we should choose to be overwhelmed by God’s goodness and His perfect gift of grace.
In Every Situation
Stay focused. Stay on Target. Cue the mechanism. All in an effort to eliminate distractions and notice only what is important. In a letter that has been full of hope and joy and encouragement, Paul now urges us to stay focused only on the things that truly matter; to let the distractions fade away and stay cued in to the peace of God that comes in his presence.
Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.