Philippians 1C: A series of reflection on scripture
Insights - May 15, 2021 Author: Jeanette Green

Philippians 1C: A series of reflection on scripture

Follow from the beginning:
Read part 1A first

Chapter 1:20-30 

Php 1:28 - Don't be afraid of your enemies; always be courageous, and this will prove to them that they will lose and that you will win, because it is God who gives you the victory.

All my life, I have battled fear. At times the fear I lived with, was crippling. I couldn’t function. Couldn’t breathe. During one such fear attack, I opened the Bible at Philippians 1:28. It was a life-changing read. God helped me understand that if I believe that He has won the victory for me, then my attitude should declare that to the seen and unseen worlds. My confidence, my trust, ripple out from me and declare God’s victory, even when I do not see victory, yet.
In my flesh, I know I can’t just shake the fear off and ‘get confident’. But in me lives the Holy Spirit, which is not a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. Through His presence, God strengthens me. And as I surrender to His leading, I grow in fruit.

As I read the scripture now, the following points stand out for me:

1) Desire courage
Php 1:20> My deep desire and hope is that I shall never fail in my duty, but that at all times, and especially right now, I shall be full of courage, so that with my whole being I shall bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

My natural response to a perceived threat is to flee or freeze. I have an aversion to conflict. Rarely, when the threat blocks me from fleeing and forces me to act, I will fight. This applies to perceived spiritual threats, also. But now, God reminds me of my childhood admiration of super-hero movie characters, their bravery, and my desire to live an adventure. He helps me understand that to live an adventure, I must desire courage. He will be my courage when I am weak with fear.

Another scripture pops into my mind:
James 4:7>So then, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. (Good News Translation)

I realize that, like Paul, I should desire courage, because that will enable me to fulfill my duty and bring honor to Christ, no matter my life’s circumstances.
The definition of courage:
- Ability to do something that frightens one; bravery.
- Strength in the face of pain or grief.

In the King James translation, the word ‘boldness’ is used.
Definition of boldness:
- Willingness to take risks and act innovatively; confidence or courage.

2) All about Christ
Php 1:21> For what is life? To me, it is Christ. Death, then, will bring more.

When my life didn’t go as I hoped it would, when I longed for things in this world my life circumstances withheld me from, this verse always helped me to gain perspective. And now, after I have received a diagnosis of metastatic melanoma, this verse has become an anchor for me. Some days I panic and suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). But then this verse flutters into my heart and reminds me – for me to be alive, in this world, is all about Christ. And to die, will bring me face-to-face with Him. This verse is quite the extinguisher of the enemy’s fiery darts!

3) God’s purpose will prevail
Php 1:23-26> I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; but for your sake, it is much more important that I remain alive. I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in the faith, so that when I am with you again, you will have even more reason to be proud of me in your life in union with Christ Jesus.

One very freeing thing I have learned on my journey with Christ is that God is sovereign. All authority belongs to Christ. No one can snatch me from His hand, no one can cut my life short. This knowledge assures me that I will live each and every day that God has planned for me. And so, I can have peace. Every time I am swamped with the agony and cruelty of this world, I wish I could rather leave this place and return to my real homeland. But I will stay here until I have fulfilled all God has placed me here to do.

4) Obedience
Php 1:27> Now, the important thing is that your way of life should be as the gospel of Christ requires, so that, whether or not I can go and see you, I will hear that you are standing firm with one common purpose and that with only one desire you are fighting together for the faith of the gospel.

Whether or not I have a pastor or leadership holding me accountable to be obedient to God’s word, Jesus holds me accountable. He sees everything I do, even my hidden thoughts. During a global pandemic that physically isolates or life circumstances that do the same (illness, poverty, imprisonment, the like) I am united with the body of Christ in spirit. And where the head (Christ) goes, the body must follow. Our obedience to God, living in love the 1Cor 13 way, unites us and brings glory to His name.

5) Winners have courage
Php 1:28>Don't be afraid of your enemies; always be courageous, and this will prove to them that they will lose and that you will win, because it is God who gives you the victory.

This is one of my go-to-verses when fear attacks. In my flesh, I don’t have courage, but the Holy Spirit in me gives me courage even though my flesh trembles with fear. And that courage marks me as a conqueror with Christ.

6) Suffering - a privilege
Php 1:29>For you have been given the privilege of serving Christ, not only by believing in Him but also by suffering for Him.

The first time I read this verse, I was shocked to my core. How can suffering ever be a privilege? But as I surrendered my aversion to suffering, God began to renew my mind to see suffering differently. I am not all the way there yet. Seeing others suffer, hearing of suffering, and experiencing my own suffering, still, grind at my core. But knowing that you and I serve Christ, even in our suffering, and that Paul calls suffering a privilege, do help me when I face the tremendous suffering in this world.

I had a look at the King James version of this verse:
For unto you it is given (G5483) in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer (G3958) for his sake.
The word ‘given’ as used in this verse (Strong’s number G5483) in the Greek text is ‘charizomai’.
Charizomai means:
To grant as a favour, (gratuitiously, in kindness), pardon or rescue, forgive, give, grant.
In more detail:
- to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favour to, gratify
(a) to show one's self gracious, kind, benevolent
(b) to grant forgiveness, to pardon
(c) to give graciously, give freely, bestow
(c1) to forgive
(c2) graciously to restore one to another
(c3) to preserve for one a person in peril  (You and I are not alone in our suffering, Jesus is with us, and He keeps us safe, within our sufferings.)

Look at how ‘charizomai’ is used in Luke 7:21: And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave (G5483) sight.

The word ‘suffer’ as used in this verse (Strong’s number G3958) in the Greek text is ‘páschō’.
Páschō means:
- to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful):—feel, passion, suffer, vex.
In more detail:
- to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo
  (a)in a good sense, to be well off, in good case
  (b)in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight
(b1)of a sick person  (this is for me, and for all of us who are  suffering from illness!)

Look at how ‘páschō’  is used in Matthew 16:21:
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer (G3958) many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

These last ten verses of Philippians chapter one packed a power punch for me. It’s going to take a while for me to digest all of it. But even just working through it now has given me a new perspective on my own suffering, and what my attitude should be, during suffering.
I can endure my suffering with my head held high, because I am serving Christ, even if I can’t see how. And the boldness the Holy Spirit gives me, vibrates out from me into the spirit realm, declaring me a conqueror with Christ.

I don’t often do detailed word studies, but today I am glad I have studied the words ‘given’ and ‘suffering’. Because I have heard it being said that the suffering Paul refers to are not personal suffering, like illness or financial difficulty, but only persecution as a result of being a Christian, like imprisonment, beatings, or being killed. But studying the detailed meanings of the Greek words showed me that I can understand my personal suffering, including my chronic illness and financial difficulty, as a privilege given to me, to serve Christ in it, through it, and also that God will keep me safe, throughout my trials.

Next week, I journey further through Philippians. I’d love for you to walk along! So, if you’d like, read Philippians chapter 2, this coming week.

Father God, thank you for your mercy and grace. God, please give us the grace to see our suffering through Your eyes. Renew our minds and give us scriptural understanding. We thank you for giving us the privilege of serving Christ, during happy times and also during times of trial and suffering. We offer up our fears to You, oh God. Rise up strong in our weakness and clothe us with the boldness that comes from Your presence within us. Let the vibrations rippling out from us proclaim us to be victors by the blood of Christ. We praise your Holy name, oh God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Read Philippians Chapter 2 next

Read more about “G5483 - charizomai - Strong's Greek Lexicon (KJV)" at the Blue Letter Bible
Read more about "G3958 - paschō - Strong's Greek Lexicon (KJV)" at the Blue Letter Bible

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