The Letter To The Philippians, Part 4

Personal Devotional: The Letter to the Philippians, Part 4
Philippians 1:27-30

Begin today’s time in the Word with the new strategy we introduced last time.

  • Read Philippians 1:27-30 slowly and carefully.  Consider the following:
  • Did you notice anything in this set of scripture you have never noticed in the Bible before?
  • Did you read any familiar verses? Which ones?
  • Were any of the verses you read particularly meaningful to you today? Why?

Notice in verse 27 Paul encourages the church in Philippi to “conduct (them)selves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  It’s interesting that instead of following that statement up with a list of behaviors on what ‘conduct worth of the gospel of Christ’ looks like, Paul follows with a statement on unity.  His desire for this church is that they show Christ through their unified message about the Gospel.  Paul wants this church family to see that they best represent Christ when they stand as one on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  When there is unity and harmony regarding these 3 essentials, then our human behaviors are less of a necessary focus because they are drawn in into alignment with the actions of Christ.  Patterning our lives after the life of Christ and cultivating attitudes that desire unity among believers go quite a long way toward presenting a clear picture to the world of what true discipleship looks like.  This was Paul’s goal for the church in Philippi.

  • In Galatians 5: 19-21 and 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11, Paul speaks to behaviors that disciples should avoid, but he doesn’t here in Philippians.  Is it a contradictory message to tell the Philippians to focus on unity but the Corinthians and the Galatians to avoid certain behaviors?  What role does being absolutely centered on Christ play in both unity and behavior?
  • In what ways is focusing on unity more challenging than focusing on individual behaviors?  How does focusing on unity help us avoid legalism?  Flip ahead and read to Philippians 2: 3-4.  How do Paul’s words here help inform how we should approach each other in seeking unity?

Verses 29-30 close this chapter discussing part of the Christian life that few believers enjoy discussing, much less studying.  However, the concept of suffering, and especially suffering for the cause of Christ, is prominent in New Testament teaching.  In Matthew 10:22 and 38 and in John 16:33, Jesus himself lets his followers know that suffering is part of discipleship and joins us to Him in many ways. Yet, many of us avoid suffering at all costs even when James (1:2) tells us that we should consider it a joy.

  • Read Philippians 1:29. If you are honest with yourself, which are you more willing to do: believe in Him or suffer for Him? Why?
  • Read the following verses carefully and make notes about the common theme in each: Matthew 10:38-39, Romans 8:17, 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5, 2 Timothy 1:8, 2 Timothy 3: 12, James 1: 2-3, and 1 Peter 4: 12-16.  Based on these verses, should disciples EXPECT to suffer?  Why (note especially the idea of being joint heirs).  What blessing comes from suffering?  If we believe Christ and desire to do His will, why do we fear suffering?  Do the blessings associated with suffering in these verses affect your attitude toward the idea suffering?
  • How does suffering – either for our faith or in general, help take our focus off of the world and center it on Christ? How does suffering reorient our sense of control? Why are both necessary at times?  What other lessons can we learn in times of suffering?

The topics in the 2 studies this week have been heavy: living unashamed, striving for unity, and Christian suffering, but Paul writes about these to give encouragement to the believers in Philippi.  This church – that held a special place in Paul’s heart - was thriving, and he wants that to continue in his absence.  Much like Paul felt about the church in Philippi, Jesus desires us to thrive in His absence until we are reunited with Him in eternity.  The themes Paul presents in the second half of chapter 1: living unashamed, striving for unity, even suffering help us thrive. Church family, during this time of modern-day exile, pray for conviction to live unashamed, commitment to unity in the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and for the blessings that come through suffering so that we, like the Philippians might thrive.

Be blessed. Be a blessing.

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