Philippians 1:27 – Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come 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.
In school, getting sent home with a letter or the promise of a phone call from school to your parents was not something you thought would bring encouraging statements of how well you had been doing. It was more, how fast do I need to run in order to clear the message off the machine before my mother hears it?
I read the letter to the Philippians similar to the way that I would anticipate a call from the principal; waiting for Paul to lay into them and rebuke them for something. Holding my breath for the part of the letter where Paul would give a big ‘BUT’ and not finding one. I’m sure the Philippians had their own heap of issues and they were plenty aware and maybe even ashamed of them, but Paul doesn’t seem to bring light to them. I read this book and wondered, what is Paul trying to teach them, where did they go wrong?
But Paul talks about the Philippians in a personable, intimate way; calling them friends, brothers, his beloved. Even in the way that he addresses himself. You may notice that in letters such as Ephesians, Galatians, Corinthians, or Colossians he starts off with a greeting of “Paul, an apostle for Christ” or something similar. Stating his authority given him by Christ and the church gives him the ground to stand on to rebuke and teach the churches he is writing to, but with Philippians, he claims no such ground. “Servants in Christ”, equals with his brothers in Philippi, fellow partakers of suffering and the gospel. They needed no reminder of who Paul was or by what authority he spoke. Their respect for the gospel that he had taught them was evident in their faith in God to provide and their boldness in their sharing.
And in reading this, my thought was, ‘Would I have run home to try to erase the message?’ Or would I have been sure of the work that I had been doing to receive Paul’s letter with confidence and pride?
But I hope that it would have been neither.
I hope that my reaction to receiving such a letter would have been worship, glorifying the One who worked through me, taking on humility as Christ did and returning all praise to God. Because I know myself. I know that I am a prideful, but God shows me humility. I know that I am unworthy, but God shows me worth. I know that I am weak, but God gives me strength. And I know that it is only through the One who created me and continues to create in me that I find my boldness and humility to walk worthy of the gospel.
So, like the Philippians, be found worthy of the gospel, stand firm in it, and strive side by side for the faith of it, not frightened by any opponent. For this is the sign of our salvation.
Written By: Lindsey Reed