No matter what else, Paul exhorts the believers in Philippi, be united in mind, in love, in spirit, in purpose. He instructs them to be humble, like Jesus, putting the needs of everyone else before their own needs. Jesus came to serve others, and they should do likewise. If anyone is to be exalted, let God do the exalting, and not man, so that it results in more praise to Jesus. Whatever they do, they should do joyfully for God, without grumbling or fighting. Living in such a way will result in God’s light shining in and through them to illuminate the way of salvation in a dark world. Living in this way not only glorifies God but also encourages Paul, regardless of the circumstances in which he is living.
Paul hopes to come and visit the believers in Philippi shortly, if his circumstances permit. If not, his spiritual son Timothy will come on his behalf to see how the believers are doing and to encourage Paul with a good report. Timothy loves the church there just as Paul does. Paul also plans to send Epaphroditus to the church in Philippi; Epaphroditus, who had been sick to the point of death because of his work to spread the Gospel, is beloved both by Paul and by the Philippians. Indeed, Epaphroditus was with Paul to minister to him on behalf of the Philippians. Paul knows that sending him to Philippi will be an encouragement to them, which will give Paul peace of mind.
We are called to go counter-culture by denying the edification of self and strive instead for unity: unity in thought, in love, in spirit, in direction, in purpose. In joyful unity, the Holy Spirit can move us to accomplish great things to glorify God; as scattered grumbling individuals, however, we tend to focus more on what concerns us and less on what concerns God. Our culture seeks to exalt the individual; instead, God calls us to exalt Him and trust Him to do whatever exalting of us that needs to be done. Each day our lives are to be a light to the world, to shine light on the path of salvation for all to see.
Each day, it really boils down to choice of focus: God vs. me. The daily question for each of us is, who is it going to be? That choice impacts everything in our lives. Just as Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus spread the Gospel and encouraged believers around their world, so are we called to do likewise. It can be sharing the Gospel with a neighbor in Sunnyvale or with praying with a stranger in Haiti. It can be encouraging someone sitting next to you at Trinity, or traveling to Grace Children’s Home in Mexico to build buildings or build relationships with the kids. Nothing says “God cares, and because He cares, I care too” quite like showing up in the flesh to care, to support, to help. We all are called to go somewhere to share God’s love; the question is, like Paul and his friends, will we obey?
Dear Father, thank you that you know us so well that you know our wandering, independent spirits, and yet you still love us. Help us to hand over to you our stubborn sense of self in exchange for a yielded, humble spirit. Help us to focus on the things that pull at your heartstrings, trusting that you will take care of the things that pull at our heartstrings. Help us to seek to go where you are busily at work, rather than demanding that you come and work for us. God, our vision of the world is often so small; give us vision to see the world through your eyes. Move our focus off of ourselves and onto the world that needs you, and move our butts off of our chairs and into the world that needs us!
Posted on Tue, June 23, 2015
by joel king