The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written when Paul was a prisoner in Rome. He had been imprisoned for his faith and his bold witness for the Messiah Jesus. And as always, no matter what sufferings the apostle was required to endure, his pen always flowed with encouragement and constructive correction for the church he loved and served.
We need to keep in mind that Paul’s instructions were written from a heart that was selflessly devoted to the Lord and the work of sharing the gospel. We can trust the spirit through which his voice is conveyed to us. He stands out in contrast to the false apostles and teachers of his age and our own, who minister with motives that are not in alignment with God’s word. We know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16).
Paul warns against those in his day who are tares that have been sown in the Lord’s harvest field (Matthew 13:24-30).–
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things (Philippians 3:18,19).
He previously encouraged his readers in verse seventeen to follow his example and the others like him, and to use them as an example or “pattern.” When we deviate from the apostolic model, we run the risk of being included in the description of the apostates who “mind earthly things” and only seek to gratify their “belly,” or their own desires.
Paul reminds us that we are not of this life, we are citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20).
In his epistle to Timothy, he tells this young pastor, and also all of us who are called to ministry, not to be entangled with the affairs of this life (II Timothy 2:4). We are all called to serve the Lord Jesus in some capacity, therefore we should avoid being overly consumed with issues that do not advance the kingdom of God.
Paul encourages us to –
Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Phil. 1:27).
I am reminded of the powerful move of God that was poured out upon the one hundred and twenty unified believers in the second chapter of Acts. We sorely need a fresh wind of God’s Spirit at this hour, and unity is a key that opens the window of refreshment and power to share the gospel that all who serve the Lord desperately need.
We are to do all things without murmurings and disputings (Phil. 2:14). –
That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Phil. 2:15).
Paul is describing Rome as a “crooked and perverse nation.” I am sure we can apply the same terminology to our present day.
We note that never in any of Paul’s or any of the other apostles’ writings are we encouraged to challenge our ruling authorities, but to pray for them (I Timothy 2:1,2). Our focus is to only challenge the darkness that surrounds us by the light of Christ that shines out of our beings and the proclamation of the gospel. That alone is enough to make us targets of persecution in this evil world. Yet, it is preferable that a Christian suffers for sharing the gospel, than for attempting to overthrow Caesar. That’s not our business, as the scriptures attest; God is the one who takes down strongholds of evil. And we pave the way for the Lord to have His way by being obedient to His instructions and by recognizing the tremendous power we have been given through prayer and our testimonies.
Let us not be included in the group Paul describes here. –
For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s (Phil. 2:21).
Let’s “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) as our Lord has commanded, and everything else we need will be provided as promised.
We know that this world is not our home, and it’s time that the body of Christ matures into the recognition of that fact and live accordingly by not minding those “earthly things,” which is a characteristic of a disciple. Then our light will shine even brighter in this world of darkness, and draw all those the Lord has called to the gospel of eternal life in Messiah Jesus.
Copyright 2021 by H.D. Shively
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