FINDING JOY IN LIVING THE GOSPEL
Pr Anand Kumar
14 APR 2020
"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."-Phil 1: 27-2:4(NIV)
Adapted from Exalting Jesus in Philippians by Tony Merida and Francis Chan
We are now in the book Philippians looking at the Theme : Christ our source of Joy. Last week Josh had started it off with chap 1 and this week we shall continue with the following chapters.
"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 stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel."
In the first part of chapter 1, Paul shares his circumstances and how he feels about them. He is in chains for Christ but he is not discouraged. He has put his life in the hands of God and can see good in both life and death. But in verse 27 it is clear that Paul’s real concern is the church in Philippi. For all his confidence in them, he knows they are facing opposition and he urges them to face this opposition in a way that is “worthy of the gospel.” It is easy to apply this command individually but Paul applies it to the church as a whole.
Paul is making one very important, serious, and comprehensive point, and we should pay attention to it. What is it? He exhorts the Philippians to live “worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Believers are making a statement about the gospel not only with their lips but also with their lives. The gospel is about love; therefore, we should be known as loving people. The gospel is about justice; therefore, we should be justice-seeking people. The gospel is about life; therefore, we should display visible vitality and joy in our gatherings and in our relationships. The gospel is about liberty; therefore, we should not live as stuffy legalists. The gospel is about humility; therefore, we should be a humble people, gladly serving others.
1. Find Joy in standing together with the Gospel
1. “Be of the same mind” (Phil. 2:2).
2. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
3. “Look not to your own interests, but the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
We can work according to these commands only because our work is actually God’s work in us. Jesus, Paul says, “did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, and being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8–9). Therefore God’s work in us—specifically Christ’s work in us—is always done humbly with others, for the benefit of others, even if it requires sacrifice.
The first of the three commands, “Be of the same mind,” is given to Christians as a body. We shouldn’t expect it to apply in the secular workplace. In fact, we don’t always want to have the same mind as everyone around us at work (Rom. 12:2). But in many workplaces, there is more than one Christian. We should strive to have the same mind as other Christians where we work. Sadly, this can be very difficult.
In church, we segregate ourselves into communities in which we generally agree about biblical, theological, moral, spiritual, and even cultural matters. At work we don’t have that luxury. We may share the workplace with other Christians with whom we disagree about such matters. It may even be hard to recognize others who claim to be Christians as Christians, according to our judgments.
In urging the Philippians to stand together, Paul uses several word pictures in this section that draw attention to unity, teamwork, and fearlessness for the mission. Following this, he explains the nature of Christian suffering and his own suffering. These ingredients—teamwork, fearlessness, and willingness to suffer for Christ’s sake—are essential for a unified stand against opposition. Paul tells the Philippians, “Hey, you don’t need me in order to move forward in the mission. Whether or not I’m there, keep pressing on.”
Paul then provides two word pictures illustrating Christian teamwork: “stand firm in one spirit” and “work side by side.” Believers are like soldiers and athletes, fighting and contending together as they make the gospel known to the nations.
As soldiers. The metaphor “stand” was taken from the military (Melick, Philippians, 89). This word steko¯ means “to stand firm and hold one’s ground.” The term indicates the determination of a soldier who stands his ground, not budging one inch from his post. The Philippians were attacked for believing in Christ as King. Consequently, Paul urges them to remember that they’re engaged in a war. They must not disavow their loyalty to Jesus, but must instead faithfully stand firm in the face of intimidation.
2. Find Joy in serving one another in humble compassion
Regarding others as better than ourselves is the mind-set of those who have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:3). Our humility is meant to be offered to all the people around us, and not just to Christians. For Jesus’ death on the cross—the ultimate act of humility—was for sinners and not for the righteous (Luke 5:32; Rom. 5:8; 1 Tim. 1:15).
Paul opens with a series of “if” statements that may be better understood as “since” statements or “because” statements. They could be stated, “If, as is indeed the case” (O’Brien, Epistle, 165). The “if” refers to certainties, not possibilities. Together, these motivations remind believers of the cords of love that bind them together as God’s people (Hanson, Letter, 106). The first reminder is that there is encouragement in Christ. We have the blessing of knowing Christ (3:10) and being found in Him (3:9). We have been given the gift of faith (1:29). Does anything lift our spirits more than knowing we are in Christ? In the midst of trial and suffering, find encouragement in your relationship with Jesus.
Second, we have the consolation of love. This is presumably a reference to the love of Christ that comforts us. He is ours, and we are His. What comfort! It may also be a reference to mutual love for one another that flows from this relationship with Jesus. This connection was made in Philippians 1:7-8. Paul loves the church “with the affection of Christ Jesus” (1:8). We know God’s love, and His love makes us love others.
Third, we’re reminded that we share in the fellowship with the Spirit. The Greek word translated “fellowship” (koinonia) is the same word as in 1:5. The Spirit unites us as brothers and sisters (1:27), partners in the gospel, and the Spirit helps in our weaknesses (Rom 8:26). Later Paul says that Christians worship God “by the Spirit” (Phil 3:3). Paul is aware that disunity threatened the Philippian congregation, so he reminds them of the Spirit-produced fellowship they share.
Fourth, we share affection and mercy. This affection (cf. 1:8) or “tenderness” (NIV) flows from our union with Christ. Christ has loved us with amazing tenderness. He has shown us infinite affection. Mercy or “sympathy” (ESV) or “compassion” (NIV) has also come to us from the source of all compassion, our great God (see Ps 103; Rom 12:1; 2 Cor 1:3). We share in a common experience of being the objects of God’s compassion. This tender care should cause us to look out for the interests of others (Phil 2:4) and serve sacrificially as illustrated by the life of Epaphroditus (2:25-30; 4:18).
We enjoy these amazing blessings as fellow believers. Notice Paul’s approach with the Philippians. He’s not only warm and pastoral, but he’s also quick to first mention the blessings of the gospel before giving certain exhortations. If all you ever do is tell people what they’re supposed to be doing, then they will get burned out. Remind people of the blessings while giving them the imperatives. Do this for your own soul, and do this for other Christians.
Grow in humility by reflecting on God’s Word, which reveals to us Christ’s humility and exaltation. Studying the Bible can be an act of humility in itself, if you’re going to the Bible with the attitude of “I need Your Word more than bread.”
It is the arrogant person who thinks he or she doesn’t need to hear from God’s Word. Of course, some read in order to fill their pride, and that’s wrong. God is looking for people who humbly seek and submit to His Word. He tells Isaiah, “I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at My word” (Isa 66:2). As you study, meditate on the greatness of God. Like Asaph in Psalm 73, get before God and realize that He rules over all; stand in the way of His greatness and regain your perspective on yourself and all of life.
Grow in humility through prayer. One reason for our prayerlessness is the lack of humility. Prayer is a very hard thing to do because it seems like we aren’t doing anything. But it’s also hard because it’s a humble act. We must humble ourselves before God’s mighty hand regularly and cast our cares on Him (1 Pet 5:6-7).
Grow in humility through serving others. By doing humble actions, like serving without being noticed, you may begin to grow in humility. Paul encourages the church to think on the interests of others. So serve people humbly. As you do this, pray for God to cultivate in you the spirit of humility that was so gloriously displayed in our Lord.
We find Joy in Christ by embracing the Gospel in our mind, in our action and it is translated in our lifestyle. A Unified Stand, v. 27-30, A Stand With Cooperation, v. 27, & A Stand With Courage, v. 28-30.
Living worthy of the gospel is a collective understanding of how our personal lifestyle results in real action in our community. By living personally and in our community, we actually find the joy of the Lord, which is Christ Himself, the source of the Joy giving us this ability and the empowerment when we choose diligently to abide through His word.