“You’ll know if you’re a servant by how you react when people treat you like one.” —Jon Courson
This is one of my very favorite passages in all of scripture because it’s practical and poetic, filled with complex truth yet also rich in life applicable points that are fairly easy to grab hold of. I’ll try to stick to the life applicable stuff and save the juicier bits for another post, or maybe I’ll just leave those for the scholars to quibble over. I’m not sure yet.
At the end of chapter one, we found Paul exhorting the Philippian believers to walk worthy of the gospel, to actually live as citizens of the kingdom of God. He tells them to stand unified, to strive side by side for the gospel, and to even suffer for the sake of Christ. I spoke of this in my last post. How we do this life as Christians matters very, very much.
“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.
My bible study has gotten a bit derailed by life, but we’re still plodding along after a brief hiatus. Last Sunday we covered the rest of chapter one and, as usual, several things jumped out at me.
We left Paul, if you remember, laying aside his own ego to rejoice that the gospel was being spread, even though some of those who were preaching were also trying to discredit or one-up Paul in the process. The important thing was that Christ was being preached. Period. Nothing else mattered in Paul’s mind.
Finishing the sentence I was reading, I glanced up at my daughter who had quietly entered the room. Standing beside my bed, she struggled to get the words out.
“I feel so guilty.” I watched as a wave crashed through her, spilling twin rivulets of sorrow down her flushed cheeks. “I should be able to control this by now!” She swiped her face with frustration.
When I began my study of this passage, I figured it was pretty straightforward. To be honest, I was a bit peevish to see that we would spend the whole Sunday School hour going over just 6 1/2 rather boring little verses. I mean, really. I figured it would take all of ten minutes to cover this passage. What in the world would we talk about for the other 50 minutes?
Then that whole living and active thing kicked in.
“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”
― Donald Miller
As I walked with my friend, the heaviness in her spirit was written on her lovely face, dampening her normal radiance. She was feeling guilty and frustrated. One of her dearest friends had called to lambaste her, letting her know in no uncertain terms that she had failed miserably as a friend. Apparently there was some sort of friend code that had been broken, a specific sort of support that had been withheld. My friend had had no idea she was so neglectful. She hadn’t even known the friendship code existed.
Paul’s prayer for the Philippians has been running through my mind all week. It’s one of those passages that leaps out and demands to be examined more thoroughly. The more I chew on it, the more tangents I could go off on, but I’ll strive to keep in line with a single train of thought. (Those who know me well know what a feat of constraint this is for me, the queen of rabbit-trails, but here goes!)