Philippians 1:1-11

I’ve posted a few of Keith’s Sunday School wrap-ups: Ephesians 5:22-27, Mary – A Christmas Lesson for the Whole Year, and How Do You Measure Up to the Magi?

Get ready for some more. As off last Sunday, Keith is one of the alternating main teachers of our class. We are starting a study on Philippians, and last week’s text was Philippians 1:1-11.

Paul considered himself a bond servant of Christ (v1).  A bond servant was someone who worked for another but did not earn wages.  Today, we would call that a slave.  God calls all of us to be slaves, but not the type of slave we’re familiar with.  God does not compel or force us to do His will.  Rather, He demands that we offer ourselves as slaves for Christ (Rom 12:1).  We need to die to ourselves and start living for Christ (Matt 16:24-25, Gal 2:20).  This is where real living begins.  But this, for me as well, is easier said than lived.

Paul is filled with joy because of the partnership he has with the Philippians (v4-5).  Koinōnia, translated partnership, fellowship or participation, always contains the idea of interaction between people.  Later in this letter, Paul mentions that the church sent someone to take care of him (2:25) and that they have provided him with support while spreading the gospel (4:15-16).  Paul founded the church on his second missionary journey (Acts 16) and returned to encourage, disciple and fellowship with them on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:6).  We need to partner (Koinōnia, interact) with all Christians, locally, nationally and internationally.  We can do so through prayer, financial gifts, mission trips and discipleship (amongst other ways).

Paul prays for the Philippian Church that their love will “abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless” (v9-10).  Paul not only wants their love to grow (“abound more and more”), but to grow wisely (“in knowledge and depth of insight”).

As Christians, we need to grow in all ways (including love).  We need to strive to be more like Christ, living a life of radical devotion to our Creator.  We need to study the word of God (II Tim 3:16-17, Psalm 119:105, I Pet 3:15), spend time in prayer (I Thes 5:17, Eph 6:18), witness to the lost world, making disciples of all nations (Matt 28:18-20) and aid the poor and destitute (Acts 20:35).  We cannot ignore any of God’s commands if we are to become a real slave for Christ.

This is a huge step that seems impossible to take.  How can we go from selfish rebellious people to wholly living for God?  How do we begin?   Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Make attainable goals for reading the scriptures and prayer.  Our first few steps probably won’t look like radical devotion to Christ.  But as we continue to follow Christ, we will begin to look more like slaves and less like our old selves.

Remember God’s promise in the first chapter of Philippians, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (v6).   As we strive to be more like Christ (Phil 1:21), to deny ourselves and follow him (Mark 8:34-35, Luke 9:23-24), to keep our hands on the plow (Luke 9:62), or to overcome trials and temptations (Rom 5:3-5, I Cor 10:13), God will complete a “good work” in us.  We won’t see completion until the day of Christ Jesus, but we will see continued growth.  We simply need to continue taking those single steps in our journey.

Have a blessed week.

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