1. Passionate Prayer
As the Apostle Paul sits under house arrest in Rome, he takes the opportunity to write to the saints in Philippi expressing gratitude for their partnership in the Gospel ministry. In the beginning of his letter, he opens by sharing his thankful heart while also detailing what he prays for them. He says:
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” -Philippians 1:9-11
It is vital that we see the heart of Paul in prayer for these saints. He was imprisoned, yet he still valued the opportunity to petition God to intercede on their behalf. Notice that he specifically prays for them to have abounding love grounded in knowledge and discernment. Love is the vital mark amongst the disciples of Christ testifying to the world they are Christ’s own possession (John 13:35). The church should be permeated by love because they serve the God of love. Yet, this love is guided by biblical truth and has sound discernment in each and every situation. It is a love that is as innocent as a dove and wise as a serpent (Matthew 10:16). As our first lesson from this book, we must remember to have a passion to come before the throne with a heart filled with this desire for our brothers and sisters. Let us ask that God’s Spirit would stir their souls (and ours) to love one another in the Lord. May this be a testimony to the lost world of the power of the Gospel we proclaim!
2. Serve From Love Not Selfish Ambition
During this book of Holy Scripture we come across the reality that Paul’s imprisonment had stirred up the brothers to preach the truth with even greater boldness (Philippians 1:14). The interesting part of this situation comes next in the passage:
“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”
We must be certain to note well the difference in the heart of the motivation for preaching Christ between these two groups of individuals. One is driven by envy, rivalry, and selfish ambition thinking to jealously afflict Paul while he is imprisoned. The other is focused on the glory of Christ by declaring the truth while being motivated by good will and love. Drawing from this passage, we see the truth very plainly that the Christian must not give way to any sort of selfish spirit while serving the Lord. It is a temptation for us to seek our own advancement when what we must be concerned about is the renown of our Master. Let us rejoice when a gifted brother is placed in a special position to be used by the Lord. May our hearts overflow with gladness when we see other faithful local churches flourishing and reaching the lost besides exclusively the one of which we are members. We are all on the same team and part of the same family as believers serving the same Lord. Let us never forget these truths and cast selfishness aside!
3. Walk in Humility After Christ
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Here we see the humility of Christ as He went to the cross and came on earth to die for our sins. He took on “the form of a servant” and is the example of humility Paul sets before the saints of Philippi. The call upon us is to serve others counting them more significant than our own selves. Paul demonstrates this sort of living as depicted by the reality he is taking the time to write to and pray for these saints even while imprisoned! He was still focused on the glory of God and the magnification of Christ even in the middle of that circumstance.
We must see the person of Christ in the pages of Scripture and have our hearts transformed by His grace. It must be our desire to not only cast aside selfish ambition, but also pursue humility in service. That necessitates we humble ourselves daily before the Lord seeking to do His will. Our eyes must continually be on the lookout as to how we can serve others. It must be our eager desire to share the Gospel with the lost, encourage the saints, and simply take daily steps toward these biblical goals!
4. Focus on Christ
While writing this letter Paul expressed his desire to honor Christ in either life or death (Philippians 1:20). Remaining in the flesh would mean he would serve for the progress and joy of the Philippians and others (Philippians 1:25). Yet, to go on to glory would be a surpassing reward to be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). He sums up the believer’s attitude toward life and death:
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” -Philippians 1:21
As we go through this life let us be marked by the Lord Jesus Christ. The overriding passion of our souls must be to serve Him, find joy in Him, and glorify Him as we seek to live for Him every moment. We have nothing to fear for even death itself has been conquered by our Lord and has no everlasting sting for us. Through the power of Christ, we can see the precious truth that if we die we shall go into His presence forever. May our lives then be dominated by the Lord as we live in submission to His Holy Word!