Year 3 Day 77
Read - Philippians 1
Message - Scott Woodburn
I've never spent time in prison and I certainly hope that will remain the case but I suspect my attitude wouldn't be desperately joyous if I was doing time at her majesty's pleasure. Paul on the other hand knew all about hardship and as he writes to the Philippians he was imprisoned in Rome. What was his attitude? Thankfulness.
As Paul thought about the Philippians from his jail cell he thanked God (v3). He prayed for them with joy because from the first day he met them they partnered with him in the Gospel (v5). The Philippian church had been founded with the conversion of Lydia and her family (Acts 16) and it was a place where Paul and Silas had been imprisoned. Yet Paul's thoughts were not drawn to his numerous times in chains but instead he was certain that Christ would finish the work that He had started in Philippi (v7). Even in chains Paul was thinking about the sanctification of the people of God.
The Apostle loved the men and women of the Philippian church, indeed he yearned for them with the affection of Christ (v8). His fellow Christians caused great joy to abound in his heart and he prays that their own love would abound all the more (v9), that they would grow in knowledge and discernment and that the fruit of righteousness would fill their lives (v11). Paul desired that these men and women would be wise, mature and growing Christians as they waited for the day of Christ.
I can't imagine being so thankful in prison and yet Paul saw that what had happened to him had advanced the Gospel (v12). Those guarding Paul and many others had come to hear the Gospel from the lips of Paul himself (v13) and on the outside, the church had been emboldened by Paul's example to preach the Word fearlessly (v14). Some preached the good news for the wrong reasons but this didn't concern Paul (v15-17). He was thankful that for good motives or bad Christ was proclaimed (v18). Brothers and sisters, God is sovereign even over our hardships.
There is no question that the Apostle Paul was an extraordinary man. Even as he sat in a jail cell he contemplated life and death. If he was to go on living then he would do it all for Christ either in a jail cell or at liberty (v21). But if he were to die then he understood it would be to his tremendous gain. Death would mean Paul would awake in heaven and be with Christ which is far better than anything we have here on earth (v23).
So Paul's attitude was entirely thankful and Christ-centred. So much so that he urged the Philippians to live a life worthy of the Gospel (v27). This is a familiar call in Paul's letters. The Gospel transforms and although we are not saved by works, we should expect to see the fruit of righteousness in our lives. Paul wanted to hear about Philippian unity as they contended for the Gospel (v27). His brothers and sisters were not to be afraid by anyone who opposed them (v28). The enemy of the church will know destruction whilst the child of God will know salvation (v28). But the Christian will also know what it is to suffer for the sake of Christ (v29). Life isn't going to be easy, in this world we will know conflict (v30) but thanks be to God for Christ has overcome this world.
I find this chapter incredibly humbling. I often cry "poor me!" and consider my own troubles to be far greater than they are. May the Lord forgive me. Paul was rooted in the Gospel and focused on Christ enabling him to cry "for me to live is Christ, to die is gain" Brothers and sisters, regardless of our circumstances may the One who began a good work in us move it a little bit further to completion. May He grow us up in the faith and in Christian maturity. Regardless of our chains or our liberty, the Lord speaks and says "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (v2)
Q74 What is required in the eighth commandment? The eighth commandment requireth the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others.