The Letter To The Philippians, Part 8

Personal Devotional: The Letter to the Philippians, Part 8
Philippians 2:14-18

Let’s begin with intentional reading.

Read Philippians 2: 14-18 and 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?

This section of scripture hits a bit hard, but that’s what scripture often does.  The Word of the Lord can hold a mirror up to our lives and reflect the most and least beautiful in us.  God’s purpose in this is to refine and bring us closer to the character of Jesus.  This section of Philippians is just such a set of scripture.

In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul has explained to the Philippian church that God works in us to both want to do His will and help us carry out His will for our lives. Paul lets the Philippians know that they do not have to live in discipleship without the help and support of the Lord himself.

  • Read Isaiah 41:10. How do Paul’s words in Philippians 2: 12-13 connect the Old Testament promise from God to New Testament Jesus followers? Does knowing you have God’s help to do His will for your life reframe your concept of “doing God’s will”? How?

Paul continues his message about living out God’s will for our lives verse 14 with the statement: “Do everything without complaining and arguing.”  Of all the things Paul could have pointed out to avoid as we live out God’s will for our lives, he settles on complaining and arguing.  This is a bit fascinating since in Galatians 5, Paul does not shy away from discussing more pointed behaviors. So what is it about complaining and arguing that are so harmful to living out God’s will for our lives?

This is once again a place where the Greek can help us out.  The word translated complaining in literally means one who is dissatisfied with their life or one who harbors secret displeasure.  When we complain to others, we are declaring that are not satisfied with what God has provided for our lives. Philippians 4: 19 says that “My God will supply every need according to the riches of His glory n Christ Jesus.”  Complaining is our way of saying we don’t believe all of our needs are met or that God’s provision for our lives is in some way insufficient.  The enemy of our souls will do his best to make us believe the lie that God is withholding from us and that we lack something in our lives that would fulfill them.  Brothers and sisters, reject this voice and don’t believe the lie.  In Jesus Christ, our lives lack nothing (2 Peter 1:3).  

  • Our complaints preach a powerful sermon about our view of God’s care for us.  Our praise and contentment preach equally powerful sermons.  Which sermon are you preaching most often?   
  • In what ways do our complaints demonstrate a lack of faith?
  • When we are frustrated with our circumstances, relationships, or outcomes, what is a more Godly response than complaining? See Philippians 4:6-7

Paul concludes this section in verses 17 with a little phrase that we might pass right over if we aren’t reading with intention.  Paul says that even if he is poured out on the sacrifice like a drink offering, he will be glad.  Both Jews and pagans would have been familiar with drink offerings because wine was a precious commodity and frequently used in religious services.  The interesting thing about a drink offering is that after it is poured out, there is nothing left.  Often there is no evidence that the drink offering was ever made in the first place.  Paul saw his life as something to be poured out – given completely and totally to others for the cause of Christ.  For Paul, being poured out completely meant that there was none of him left and that only Christ would be seen, and he understood that living a life for the Lord was the only way to actually find true purpose. Paul found joy in this process and verse 18 lets us know that he wanted his readers to do the same.

  • Read Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:25 and Luke 17:33. How does Paul’s analogy of being poured out like a drink offering reflect Jesus’ words?
  • What stops us from “pouring ourselves out like drink offerings” for the cause of Christ?
  • If we truly believe Philippians 2:13 – that God will help us both want to do His will and carry it out – should we be afraid to pour ourselves out like drink offerings? Why not?

Avoid complaining and pour yourself out. Neither seem easy to do, but we don’t have to do these in our own strength or effort.  God promises to work in us so that both of these are possible, and so that we can – like Paul – live lives of joy.

Be blessed. Be a blessing.

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