COURAGEOUS, COMPASSIONATE

Opening Prayer

Father in heaven, as I anticipate celebrating the birth of your Son, give me opportunity to share with others the hope that is mine because of your gift in him.

Read PHILIPPIANS 1:27 – 2:4

Life Worthy of the Gospel

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[a] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Imitating Christ’s Humility

2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Footnotes

  1. Philippians 1:27 Or in one spirit

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

‘God in three persons, blessed Trinity.’1 Lift your praise to him who is one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, living in perfect unity.

Think Further

Some commentators regard verse 27 as the key verse in the whole letter. Paul’s overarching desire, expressed throughout Philippians, is that his readers ‘conduct [them]selves’ in a ‘manner worthy’ of Christ’s gospel. This principle shapes all dimensions of daily life: nothing is held back. Throughout his letters, Paul teaches that inner thoughts,2 friendships,3 finances,4 work lives,5 service within the gathered church,6 and much more, are all to be brought into conformity with the gospel. The psalmist prays, ‘give me an undivided heart.’7 Is there any part of your life which is somehow ‘divided,’ partitioned off from the influence of the gospel? Begin to dismantle that wall today, in the strength that God gives.

In our verses, Paul especially brings the gospel to bear on the church. The word ‘one’ is crucial. It occurs four times, but the appeal to unity affects the whole argument. Note that this is not a lowest-common- denominator unity, which is shapeless and has no purpose. Rather, it is a gospel unity, closely reflecting the life and mission of the One who brought the church into being: Jesus Christ. Paul is especially concerned that God’s people remain wedded to the core truths of the gospel, standing firm in a hostile world (vs 27,28). Further, he wants them to love one another in ways that are patterned on Christ’s greater love for them (2:1). I write these words as we continue to move through the ravages of Covid-19 and navigate our way into a new future. Few things are needed more than gospel churches that are courageous in standing for the truth and are compassionate (v 1), embodying the love of Christ in community. Church is not always like this of course, but let’s be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. What positive difference can you make?

Apply

What will it mean for you to ‘conduct yourself’ in a manner worthy of the gospel in your relationships as we anticipate the coming of Jesus?

Closing prayer

Lord God, thank you for the church, for the privilege I have to be a part of your body, for the koinonia that is offered to me there.

Last Updated on December 24, 2023 by kingstar

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