339 - An Encouraging Letter to the Church in Philippi (Part 1)
December 5 - Nº 339 Philippians 1:1 – 2:11
Paul first arrived in Philippi during his second missionary journey. He had planned to go north across Asia to spread the Gospel, but God had led him to Macedonia instead. There he met a wealthy businesswoman named Lydia. When he told her about Jesus, she believed. Many of her friends did as well, and soon a church was meeting in her home. Paul stayed and taught them for about three months (see #305 - November 1 – #306 - November 2). Although he was only able to visit one other time, Paul remained in close contact with his Philippian “family.” When the Philippian believers heard that Paul was in a Roman prison, they sent Epaphroditus (different from Epaphras of Colossae—see #338 - December 4) to check on him. They also sent money to help with his expenses. Paul was very grateful, so he wrote them a letter. He dedicated much of it to personally thanking them for their generosity. He wrote, “I am amply supplied now that I have received the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice that is pleasing to God.” He recalled fondly how, early in his ministry, this group of believers were the only ones who helped him financially. At least three times they had sent him gifts. Paul knew that the Philippians were very concerned about his imprisonment, so he shared with them how grateful he was that God had allowed it to take place. The fact that he was chained to a Roman guard night and day gave him amazing opportunities to share the Gospel. Those guards then shared the Gospel with others. “Everyone in the palace guard now knows about Jesus Christ!” he exclaimed. “Plus, my confidence gives other believers confidence to share,” he added. Paul realized that he might be executed for his faith. “But that’s not so bad,” he said. “Then I would go to be with Christ. If I am released, I will probably end up suffering more,” he explained, “because then I would keep on ministering and being persecuted for Jesus.” He summed up his feelings by saying, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!” Epaphroditus had shared with Paul some difficulties the Philippian church was facing. Rivalries and personal ambitions were getting in the way of their ministry in the community. Paul decided to address these issues in his letter. He started by encouraging the Philippian believers to follow Jesus’ example. He reminded them of everything Jesus had been willing to endure for their sakes: Although he was equal with God in every way, he had willingly given up his supernatural status for their sakes. He had deleted everything from his heavenly resume and emptied everything from his heavenly bank account to become a human being. Not just any human being. The lowliest kind. A servant! Then, in place of divine glory, he had accepted utter humiliation by dying on a cross. But ultimately, God had exalted Jesus! He had elevated his status beyond anyone or anything else! Paul made it clear that: “One day every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow when they hear the name of Jesus, and every tongue will admit that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!”
Jesus gave up all his rights for us! What have you given up recently so that someone else could know him? (It could be time; money; status; friendships; etc.) The “lower” we are willing to go for the sake of the Gospel, the “higher” God will raise us up!