The Way - Day 144 (Philippians 2)

Daily Reading:
Philippians 2
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Read Verses 12-13 aloud. How does the command of verse 12 rely on the truth of verse 13? What is the danger in trying to disconnect the commant from its root cause and source?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 51:16-17
OPTION 2: Proverbs 18:24
OPTION 3: Matthew 6:12-13
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Philippians 2 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Philippians 1:27-2:4
Writing from a Roman prison, Paul continues his words to the church at Philippi by commanding them to "let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel...." Paul did not know whether he would see them again, but he wanted them to conduct their lifestyle according to holiness and righteousness. A major factor in helping them to live worthy and stand for the faith would be unity. When Paul says to "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind" he is instructing them to be unified to accomplish the work to which God called them (spreading the gospel). Why should they be unified? Paul knows that adversity will come when standing for the faith and unity will provide strength to continue in the face of obstacles (1:28-30). Part of believing in Jesus Christ is the idea of suffering (1:29). When a person or group of people unifies to live differently than the world around them, there will be opposition. The church of Philippi had witnessed what Paul had experienced because of his faith in Jesus Christ (1:30). Unity stems from like-mindedness. Some churches attempt to force people into the same mold by looking the same, having identical viewpoints on every area of life, and adherence to a list of man-made rules; however, this is not unity but conformity. The type of unity Paul is speaking of stems from the truth of scripture and involves being committed to follow it no matter the cost (2:1-2). If God's word is our focus, we can remain unified because being a Christian is not about being selfish and self-serving but about loving others (2:3-4).

Philippians 2:5-11
Practicing unity, which is very important to the body of Christ, is only accomplished when people forget about their agendas and unify around the purposes to which they are called. In the case of Paul, he was calling believers to join together around the truth. God is truth and He has revealed that truth in His word. The church should not create their own plans, but rather submit to the ways of God. Paul has already stated in Philippians 2:3 that nothing can "be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." After commanding this from his readers, Paul looks to the ultimate example of humility - Jesus Christ. Although Jesus is God, He "made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men." This time is known as Jesus' incarnation, which means that He voluntarily set aside His deity in order to submit to the will of God the Father. Jesus Christ gave up His daily, face-to-face relationship with the Father as well as His authority. Jesus was completely subject to the guidance of His Father and willingly set aside His divine attributes for a time. This is the type of humility Paul is challenging believers to exemplify. How much was Christ willing to humble Himself? "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." Most importantly, Jesus came to the earth to live as a man for the sole purpose of being the atonement (substitute) for the sin of mankind. Death was the punishment to satisfy the wrath of God on sin and Jesus willingly died in our place taking our punishment upon Him. Jesus Christ endured suffering and persecution in order to fulfill the will of God and provide a way of salvation for the sins of mankind. Paul's message is clear - suffering and persecution will come as a result of submitting to the will of God, but we must humble ourselves before Him recognizing He knows best. In Jesus' case, God "highly exalted Him" and has "given Him the name which is above every name." Permit me to make an application to what Paul is saying. Following God will result in bad circumstances, but He will reward those who have carried out His will. I am not saying that we become gods; however, God will reward us with unmentionable blessings as we spend an eternity in heaven with Him. If you are being persecuted for your faith, endure and look forward to what God is preparing for you. John 14 declares that God is preparing a place for His children and will one day come again to receive them to Himself.

Philippians 2:12-18
Paul had already challenged his readers to endure persecution with patience (1:27-30), to be characterized with humility (2:1-4), to focus on the example of Jesus Christ (2:5-11), and now Paul urges his readers to be light in a dark world (2:12-18). Paul commends the church at Philippi for demonstrating obedience, even while he was away from them, and encourages them to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." What does Paul mean by working out their salvation? It is not possible for Paul to be advocating a salvation through works, but rather he is reminding them of their personal responsibility to continue in the process of sanctification, which is the progression of becoming more like Christ. Salvation is not complete until Jesus Christ returns for His children. Until then, believers should obey the word of God out of respect and reverence for who He is. Thank God we are not alone in following Him because He "works in you both to will and do for His good pleasure." This is the perfect balance of human responsibility and divine power. God has given us the indwelling Holy Spirit and as we respond to God's word, they both work together to produce good works (Ephesians 2:10). Paul then returns to the theme of persecution and reminds them not to question the plan of God during suffering (2:14) because through it He can make them to "become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation." Furthermore, enduring suffering and living an obedient life will enable them to "shine as lights in the world." When a follower of Christ chooses to live differently from the world, those who are far from God can be brought near. While exemplifying a holy lifestyle, a Christian should also hold "fast the word of life" meaning that they should point others to salvation, which is only found in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins. Paul had invested so much time in the church at Philippi and he did not want them to quit because it would mean that all his work would be wasted (2:16-18). You and I have been given one life and we must choose to use it to point others to Jesus Christ. Sometimes it takes enduring persecution for our faith or encountering scorn for the way we live our life, but these obstacles should point the attention of others to our great God!

Philippians 2:19-30
Paul turns his attention to some information about Timothy (his son in the faith) and Epaphroditus (a member of the church at Philippi). In Philippians 2:19-24, Paul informs them that he will "send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state." At the beginning of this letter, Paul had mentioned Timothy because he did much work in and around Philippi and the Philippians were familiar with his ministry. They knew Timothy was a fellow-laborer with Paul in proclaiming the gospel; in fact, Paul says that he was sending Timothy to them because there was "no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state." Furthermore, the Philippians knew Timothy's "proven character" and he had served with Paul in the gospel (2:22). Paul hoped to "send him at once" but he also desperately wanted to visit them (2:24). In Philippians 2:25-30, Paul explains why he is returning Epaphroditus to them. It appears that the church at Philippi had sent Epaphroditus (an apostle in their church) to Paul with a financial gift and to encourage him, but they would certainly question his quick return to them. So, Paul took the time to explain why he was sending Epaphroditus back to them with this letter. He calls Epaphroditus a "brother, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and the one who ministered to my need...." He served Paul well, but it appears that he became deathly sick during his journey to see Paul. The church at Philippi was worried about Epaphroditus and he longed to be back with them (2:26-27a). He must have gained some strength through God's mercy while with Paul which enabled him to return to Philippi (2:27b). Paul asked the Philippians to "receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me." Timothy and Epaphroditus are wonderful examples of men who carried on their work with passion and did not allow obstacles to slow them down. They were not concerned about fame or recognition, but only about the work of Christ. They were men who served with a heart for God and His people. Just because you may not be involved in a visible ministry or feel your ministry is small, God sees your faithfulness and will reward you accordingly. Do your best in what God has given you to do!

Dear God, use me in whatever way You see fit and help me never to be concerned with being acknowledged by others for my service.