Philippians 2:12-30 Devotional 4/14/2020

Start by reading Philippians 2:12-30

A few weeks ago, we observed that Paul calls the church to act in a “manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27), and that he commands us to live humbly and sacrificially for one another (2:3-4). After addressing the church explicitly, he then draws our attention to the quintessential example of humility in the perfect obedience of our Lord Jesus, before bringing it back to us.Beginning with v. 12, Paul gives us yet another command, only this time it is to continue in our grace-driven efforts of sanctification. He tells us that as we have already demonstrated obedience, we ought to continue all the more in his absence. As if to say, continue to be faithful stewards of God’s Word when nobody is looking... when your boss takes off for the day... when your loved one’s back is turned… when you could do that thing, and nobody would know but you… because make no mistake... the world is watching. If we take our licks and bumps and bruises, and remain faithful – that is to say, we endure without succumbing to sinful attitudes – we will indeed shine like lights in a dark and broken world. (further reading: Matthew 5:14-16; Galatians 5:7-15)

Isn’t it interesting how Paul doesn’t tell us to go and do something in order to accomplish that? The command he gives us to coincide with our impact on a fallen and sinful society is to not do things. The implication is that if we lace all of our “doings” with attitudes of humility and selflessness, never drawing attention to the ways that we are wronged or are suffering, and never fighting amongst ourselves, we will be the examples we are called to be… and that speaks volumes. (further reading: Galatians 5:16-26)

So how is it we are able to stand out by not doing? Our text provides an answer: By “holding fast to the Word of Life” (v. 16). In the Bible we find the supernatural strength to swim upstream and against the current of a sinful society… and that’s noticeable.  Just as it was God who first enabled us to choose him in the first place, it’s the Word of God that empowers us to strive for sanctification and to do things “without grumbling or disputing.” (further reading: Ephesians 2:8-10; Colossians 3:1-4)

So, make effort in the direction of your sanctification, and when things get hard, don’t let the watching world see you sweat. Do all of this with confidence knowing that our God is the reason you’re able to do anything at all.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. -John 15:4-5

We are in a moment in history where this fallen world in which we sojourn is being shown the absolute emptiness of its pursuits. The world needs an example to look to for hope; here’s how we can be that: by doing all things without grumbling, and without fighting amongst ourselves. In other words, simply by adjusting our attitudes. And we do all of those things by the power of Jesus Christ, as we abide in the Word of God.

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