I trust you enjoyed studying Philippians 1:1-6 along with Acts chapter 16, in our last Into the Word Wednesday. I loved seeing how the faithfulness of God and our joy intertwine.
Remembering that God’s promises remain sure and secure gives us confidence to withstand the difficult circumstances of life. God-centered confidence, flowing from the faithfulness of God, diminishes our fears leaving room for joy.
We will continue to take it slow this week and look at a few more verses from Philippians 1.
Read Philippians 1:7-11.
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. 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.
As Paul continues his letter, he expresses his deep sense of affection, love, and appreciation for the believers in Philippi. When I say “deep sense of affection,” I’m not talking about a sentimental friendship or some kind of buddy buddy camaraderie. This deep affection manifested itself from the bond of sharing in the sufferings associated with advancing and defending the Gospel. This friendship proved itself when the Philippi believers stood by Paul through imprisonment and the accompanying humiliation associated with rejection from such a traumatic experience.
I love the phrase, “partakers with me of grace,” in verse 7. Sharing with others in grace exemplifies the kindness and love of Christ Jesus who ushered in grace for us when He suffered, bled, and died. He partook of our sins so that we might partake in His grace. The Philippians suffered along with Paul and the grace ushered in by Christ at His finest hour became the conduit of their ability to get through hard times with heads held high and knees bowed low in prayer and submission to Jesus.
Read Philippians 1:12-18
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 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.
Did you notice the last phrase in that passage?
“In that I rejoice.”
Paul rejoiced in his sufferings, why? He rejoiced because Christ was proclaimed. (Philippians 1:18)
It did not matter to him that he suffered, that his imprisonment was unjust, that he was beaten and treated like a criminal. His purpose stood– Christ proclaimed.
Reread Acts 16:16-40 for background on Paul and Silas’ imprisonment in Philippi.
A boldness and newfound confidence to share the Gospel resulted from Paul’s imprisonment. (Philippians 1:14)
Even though many proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ out of selfish ambition and to afflict Paul in his imprisonment even more severely, he still rejoiced. The Gospel proclaimed– that was his intent and purpose.
- What unjust affliction are you enduring right now? Do you view this as an imposition or as an opportunity to share Christ, suffer with Christ, proclaim Christ, or rejoice in Christ?
In the afflictions I have endured (and I will be the first to say that compared to unjust imprisonment and withstanding physical punishment, my afflictions are small), I have come to realize that nothing happens to me that is outside of God’s sovereign authority. If I really believe that God is in control of my life, I must also believe that which He allows, He purposes in some capacity. I may not understand it, like it, or find it fair, but I don’t get to choose the parts of God’s character and authority I like or make me feel good. I must choose Him all, trust Him with all, glorify Him at all times, and muster up the faith required to rejoice in Him in all my circumstances.
This type of living is difficult, and at times painful. It forces us to look outside of ourselves and look to what God deems better for the Kingdom. (Romans 8:28)
- So, in the past how do you respond in the midst of trouble?
- How will you choose to respond now?