Philippiansby David Sanford
In this epistle, Paul twice addresses the Philippian believers as ″dear friends″ (2:12-14; 4:1-3). In both instances, he calls on them to end their divisiveness and disunity in order to glorify God-now and in eternity.
How do fellow Christians put an end to divisiveness and disunity? And why should we? The apostle offers six compelling insights.
First, Paul exhorts the Philippians to work out the fruit of their salvation ″with fear and trembling″ (2:12). God disciplines those who divide His people by grumbling and arguing (Numbers 16:1-50; 1 Corinthians 10:10-12; Jude 11).
Second, Paul says ″it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose″ (Philippians 2:13). Like Pharaoh, it is possible to rebel against God, create great strife and disunity among His people, suffer great punishment, and still fulfil the general purposes of God (Exodus 9:16; Isaiah 14:24-27; 46:10-14; Romans 9:17-21). However, as Christians we are empowered by God to fulfil His good purposes by our reverence, holiness, humility, and unity (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:9-11; 2 Timothy 1:9).
Third, Paul links the working out of our salvation to the practical exhortation: ″do everything without grumbling or arguing″ (Philippians 2:14). Sadly, this has been the unresolved sin of some within the Philippian church (4:2). Unity, agreement, and single-mindedness should characterise all that we do.
Fourth, the result of not complaining or arguing-and of unity in the church-is ″so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life″ (2:15-16). God's purposes for the Philippian believers are good indeed!
Fifth, Paul links the working out of the church's salvation to his own spiritual journey: ″And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain″ (v. 16). Among other things, the day of Christ refers to when we see Him in His glory. It also speaks of the final assessment of what we have done on earth.
Finally, Paul wants the day of Christ to be a day of celebration for all (vv. 17-18). Here, he draws the picture of a drink offering (v. 17, see 2 Timothy 4:6-8). Instead of wine, however, the apostle is ready to shed his own blood. For the believer, death is not defeat. Instead, it's the day we meet Jesus Christ face to face.
What produces the most awe of God in your life?
In a difficult relationship, which of Paul's six insights could help you the most?