340 - An Encouraging Letter to the Church in Philippi (Part 2)
December 6 - Nº 340 Philippians 2:12 – 4:23
In his “thank you” letter to the Philippians, Paul addressed some issues he knew they were facing. He explained that they needed to think less about themselves and start serving each other. He used Jesus as the ultimate example of humility (see #339 - December 5). Then he gave examples of people whose lives they could use as role models. The first person Paul mentioned was a young man named Timothy. The Philippians knew him well. He had been one of Paul’s traveling companions when he had first arrived in their city (see #305 - November 1). Paul reminded the believers how humble this young man had been when he served them and how concerned he still was for their welfare. Paul also shared the example of Epaphroditus. He was a leader in their church, and he had served the people well. He had been willing to make the long, difficult journey to Rome to consult with Paul over church matters. During that trip, he had become extremely sick. Paul said, “You need to honor people like him. He almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life on your account.” Paul then used his own life as an example of how humility could bring great joy. He had given up everything that once seemed so important to him in order to serve Jesus. “I now realize that everything I thought was significant is only garbage compared to knowing Jesus Christ as my Lord,” he shared. “Nothing I prided myself in could bring me the righteousness I now have through faith in him.” Paul urged the Philippians to follow his example by forgetting everything that had once been important to them and focusing only on the prize that was waiting for them in heaven. At one point Paul became very specific. He appealed to two women named Euodia and Syntyche who had worked closely with him in Philippi. But instead of creating unity in the church, they were now causing conflict. He urged them to humble themselves and live in peace. He asked some of the church leaders to help them reconcile their differences. As he encouraged all the believers to become mature in their faith, Paul instructed them to rejoice regardless of their circumstances, to be gentle with each other, and to stop being anxious. He urged them to pray about everything they faced and to thank God for the opportunity to bring their requests to Him. If they did, God’s peace would guard their hearts and minds and keep fear and anxiety away. He also advised them to fill their minds with things that pleased God. This would leave no room for negative thoughts. Paul thanked them again for the gift they had sent to him and explained how prison poverty had become one of his greatest teachers. He had learned to be content regardless of his circumstances. He knew that he could rely on God to give him whatever strength he needed at exactly the right time. He finished the letter by asking God to meet all the needs of the Philippians based on the glorious riches that were available through Jesus Christ.
The Greek word for “to humble” is tapeinoo. It means “to make low.” Literally it refers to leveling hills or mountains. God wants us to level the mountains we have built up in our lives. He wants us to do away with the things that fill us with pride. What is one mountain in your life that you need to start excavating today?