Pauls Footsteps #402

“…and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” Phil 3:9 NLT 

Footsteps #402. V9 is an echo of the whole book of Romans. V10 is my surety as I reach the top of the hill as the cliché goes. My hope is “In the power of his resurrection…” “I press toward the goal” v14. Notice the context in vs12-16. I love this passage of scripture! Chapter 2 had given us the path of Christ; Chapter 3 gives us the path of the believer. The same path below will give us the same glory above. Notice the goal in v14 (sounds like Heb12:1-3). Also, notice the word “perfection” in v12 and compare it with v14 where the same Greek word is translated as ‘mature.’ That’s our goal! Christian maturity.

Paul then challenges the Philippians to keep living the Jesus story (4:2-9). He first addresses two prominent female leaders in the church who worked alongside him when he was there; Euodia and Syntyche. They are in some kind of conflict, so Paul pleads with them to follow Jesus’ example of humility to reconcile and become unified(v2). Paul then urges the Philippians to not give in to fear but, despite their persecution, to vent all of their emotion and their needs to God who will give them peace. That peace, Paul says, comes by focusing your thoughts on what is good and true and lovely (4:6-7). Notice 4:8 – this life is a battle for the mind. I am what I am because I am doing what I am doing – the ‘will’ is a decision I’ve been making all my life and determines tomorrow. Living is solemn. There is always something that you could complain about, but a follower of Jesus knows that all of life is a gift and can choose to see beauty and grace in any life circumstance. 

This brings Paul to his conclusion (4:10-23.) He again thanks the Philippians for their sacrificial gift and he wants them to know that his imprisonments and these times of poverty are not true hardships for him. They have actually become his greatest teachers, showing him that no matter what his circumstance, he has learned the secret of contentment. It is simple dependence on the one who strengthens him (4:12-13). Paul has come to see his own suffering as a participation in the story of Jesus. 

The letter to the Philippians gives us a unique window into Paul’s own heart and mind. He saw his entire life as a re-enactment of the story of Jesus. You can sense in this letter his close connection to Jesus, his awareness that Jesus’ love and presence are closer than his own skin. That’s what gave him hope and humility in his darkest hours. So Paul shows us that knowing Jesus is always a deeply personal transforming encounter. That’s the kind of Jesus that Paul invites others to follow.  

The Philippian letter reveals what God’s good purpose for normal Christian experience should be – an experience of abiding joy in one’s own life and gracious harmony with fellow Christians. Living IS solemn! Life is the place and time where we make our decisions for eternity. Eternity has no clock, decisions belong to time. 

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