Thursday, September 13, 2007

Philippians, Chapter 1

It's Thursday and that takes across the halfway point of the God Eats Potato Chips Journey. That, of course, means it is time to dive headfirst into the book of Philippians. Philippians is a book that deals with faith and how it works in our everyday lives. Like the last two books, it was written by Paul, but this one was written while he was under house arrest in Rome. The first chapter shows Paul's conviction for the message and mission he was on. Even though he was under arrest he was still concerned with preaching the gospel of Christ.

"7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus." – Philippians 1:7-8

Imagine being so focused on a task and so sure of what you are supposed to do in this life that you will suffer through imprisonment and, in Paul's case, later execution for what you were doing. He knew all he was facing for Christ, yet he still went through with it. We see this not only here, but throughout the New Testament from Paul. He was rarely concerned about his own well-being, only that the message be reached. As I stated earlier in the look at Galatians, he was also a results oriented guy and cared rarely about the method.

"15It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.[c]
18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." – Philippians 1:15-18

I find this funny, because Paul sees that even those who are trying to cause him trouble are still carrying on his mission and the message of Christ by spreading the gospel. I can certainly picture Paul sitting under a Roman guard chuckling as he wrote this, knowing that even his enemies were doing his work. He was the type of guy that cared only for Christ. Anything that was done to advance that message, regardless of the motive, was good in Paul's eyes. Can you imagine having such conviction and focus toward anything in your life? Imagine having this kind of focus and desire for your job. What could you accomplish? What if we each had this desire and devotion toward our families? How would out lives be improved? Paul's strength here and courage inspired many in his day and further to go out and spread the gospel amidst great hardship. Living in America we have it easy, yet many struggle to keep their faith private. If only every Christian would boldly proclaim his or her faith as Paul did.

"22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me." – Philippians 1:22-26

This is what we are torn to do. I admit there are days where I long for this life to be over and be with Christ, but I know that He has a purpose in me being here. In serving that purpose I get no greater joy, so I move forward. We long for the reward, but the thrill of being used by Christ to do His work is a lure that is also very enticing. It is in the moments immediately after Christ has used me to do some small part for His kingdom that I pause and sit back, wondering in amazement at how I could be used for such glory. It's something I never get tired of, and Paul certainly did either. This is a lesson that we must carry over to our lives and strive to accomplish for Christ all that we can before He calls us home.


  1. What is Christ calling you to do today for His kingdom?
  2. How are you encouraged by Paul's sufferings?
  3. When have you plainly seen that you have done Christ's work and have been overcome with gratitude for it?

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