You might have heard or read this acrostic before. It’s so true! The secret to joy is finding the right priorities and putting them in the correct order. While life isn’t always so simple and clear cut, the general outline of “Jesus, others, you” is a good way to start getting things in the correct order.
While Paul never explicitly states this nifty maxim, he does stress the importance of putting others before yourself and Jesus above all else. As we move into Philippians 2, the first thing we find is an exhortation to count others above ourselves. This is no easy thing. But let’s see what Paul has to say about it.
As citizens of the United States of America, we have certain privileges and freedoms we enjoy. However, we also have duties and a reputation to uphold. We must act as Americans, not dishonoring or defaming our country by our conduct.
Likewise, we have a reputation to uphold as citizens of God’s eternal kingdom. We carry the name of Christ, and therefore, must act accordingly. As Paul urges the Philippians:
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”
Have you ever thought of what it might be like to have the potential of execution hanging over you? Have you considered what your thoughts and spiritual outlook might be if you were imprisoned for your faith?
I don’t think many of us consider the notion. We’re comfortable in our un-persecuted lives. We don’t have to worry about being caught following Jesus or ponder whether we are ready to die for what we believe. The worst that might happen right now in comfortable America is we might get sued or dragged into a lawsuit for standing up for what we believe. Or maybe we’d receive a nasty email or letter from people who don’t like what we have to say. These are not nice things to experience, nor are they easy. However, we would not be thrown into a dark, damp prison cell with little food or water for our faith. Nor are we expecting to be executed for preaching the gospel.
But this is what Paul faced.
Paul’s love and affection for the Philippians is obvious from the first couple of verses. However, the great Apostle never intended love to end with these saints, he wanted their love to abound and overflow for one another and those around them. This is evident in his prayer for the Philippians, found immediately after his opening greeting.
“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.”
We’ve done our due diligence, and studied the background of this wonderful letter. We know who wrote it and who received it. Now it’s time to start taking a look at what was actually written in this important letter that has stood the test of time. So let’s jump right in!
Immediately following the opening greeting, Paul writes:
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
Today, we’re going to continue looking at the background and history of Philippians. So far, we’ve established who wrote this powerful letter, the Apostle Paul. Now it’s time to take a look at who the original recipients were and why Paul was writing to them.
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.”
As we get ready to study Philippians, one of the first questions we should ask ourselves is “Who wrote the book?” Luckily for us, the author makes himself known in the first sentence.
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”