“The most important weapon against the enemy is not a stirring sermon or a powerful book; it is the consistent life of believers.” -Warren Wiersbe
So far in our Philippian journey we’ve seen a remarkable single-mindedness in Paul. His sole purpose is to glorify God, spreading the gospel and encouraging the saints. In my last post we saw that this singular focus brought a contentment to Paul that enabled him to yield completely to whatever the Lord brought his way and I hope it gave you as much to chew on as it did me.
Now we see in verse 27 a shift in the text:
27 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, 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. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
Note the words, ‘let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…’ in verse 27. The original language here refers to citizenship. In essence, Paul is telling the Philippian believers to act like citizens of the gospel, to let their actions and speech be consistent with the ways of God’s kingdom.
Remember that these are Roman citizens, and Paul’s call here is for them to take their new citizenship as Christ’s subjects just as seriously as they did their nationality. This new loyalty to Christ and to each other is what would enable them to stand firmly together in the face of persecution.
But there’s another important reason we are called to this radical loyalty to Jesus. Then, as now, we see a certain principle at work. When Christ-followers are united in mind and heart, when we work side by side to further the gospel message, when we face our enemies with a fearlessness that defies explanation, what happens?
The world can then clearly see the difference. The life without Christ is bent toward destruction, loss, waste. In contrast, the life united with Christ is delivered from the power of death and sin; it finds contentment and rejoices in the safety of the Father’s will.
The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
shining brighter and brighter until midday.
But the way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom;
they don’t know what makes them stumble.
(Proverbs 4:18-19, CSB)
A lost and dying world doesn’t even know it’s got a problem, why it stumbles in the darkness. It’s through the light of lives lived in unity for Christ, lives filled with love and joy and peace that make the world stand up and see.
Now I know there’s a lot of folks who see this section differently, who see a lot more fire and brimstone and eternal damnation in verse 28. I’ll leave that sort of debate to the scholars. What I see here is a consistent message preached throughout scripture. That message is beautifully conveyed by Jesus himself in a prayer for his disciples:
I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one—I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfectly united, so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them just as You have loved Me. (John 17:22-23, Berean Study Bible)
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35, CSB)
What we do matters. What we say matters. How we speak to and about each other as members of the family of God matters. The world is looking on, my friends. Will they see the love of Jesus in our unity, our contentment, and our fearlessness?
One way or another, the way we walk will say something about the Lord we profess to follow. Will the world be drawn to what they see, or repelled? It’s worth a bit of reflection, don’t you think?
Grace and peace,
What this section, (vs. 27-30) tells us about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit:
He is worthy of our loyalty.
Salvation is of God.
The world sees Him when we stand, strive, and suffer for His sake.
Next week’s passage: Philippians 2:1-11
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