Philippians 2: A series of reflection on scripture
Insights - May 24, 2021 Author: Jeanette Green

Philippians 2: A series of reflection on scripture

Follow from the beginning

Chapter 2
Php 2:3-4>Don't do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own. 
 
I learn a lot from my husband. One thing I particularly admire about him is his selflessness. Throughout our marriage, I have seen him lay down his life, for me, and for others. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t always get this right. But he has been an example to me. Many times, when we had decisions to make about our interactions with others, in business, or in our personal lives, he would say, “Think of others, better than yourselves.” He was quoting Ph 2:3. I have read the book of Philippians before, but somehow this seed never sprouted in my heart.

Until Calvin. 
Now, after six and a half years of marriage, I find that when I have to make decisions, a voice rings in my heart, “Think of others, better than yourselves.” I must confess, I need God’s grace to help me with this one. My flesh can be very selfish. (Insert crying emoticon here.) 

But, God has been gradually working in me, in this area ( as in so many other areas in my life, where I still need to grow).
How God has been working in me:
God has taken me through plenty of tests, where I have to serve others and can’t have my own way. Sometimes I fail, horribly. But other times, the Holy Spirit helps me to react contrary to my human nature, contrary to this weakness of my flesh. The times I fail are heart-wrenching. Yet, my failures remind me that it is only by God’s power working within me, that I can act differently to the desires of my human nature. By Christ’s blood spilled for me, I am no longer a slave of sin. Praise God!
 
 As I reflected on the rest of chapter 2, the following points stood out for me:
 
Christ-attitude:
Php 2:5-11> The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will, he gave up all he had and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death--- his death on the cross. For this reason, God raised Him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name. And so, in honor of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

These six verses, on their own, stir an entire sermon in my heart. I should take a few steps back from my life, and let God give me His perspective of it all. Because - so often I become disgruntled about my life’s journey. I forget my life is not my own – forget that I am here, in this world, to serve Him. How would I behave, how would I think, if I am not just a hearer of the Word, but a doer of it? Perhaps, instead of concerning myself with what clothes I would wear, I should concern myself with the attitude I should wear -the same attitude as Christ had. Willingly, He laid down His life. As His follower, I am called to do the same.

Accountable to God:
Php 2:12a> So then, dear friends, as you always obeyed me when I was with you, it is even more important that you obey me now while I am away from you.

Whether we can attend church and have interaction with church leadership or are in a lockdown caused by personal circumstances or a global pandemic – we are called to live in obedience. We are always accountable to God and He sees the depths of our hearts, not only our actions and outward appearances. As Paul wrote to the Philippians – it is even more important that we live in obedience during times when our church leaders can’t walk alongside us.

Salvation, a process
Php 2:12b-13> Keep on working with fear and trembling to complete your salvation, because God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose.

The first time this verse spoke to me, was in the early years of my journey as a born-again believer. I was shocked. So, I do not just say a prayer of repentance and go to Heaven? Then the desert years, the Job-years of testing, happened. It was during these past years of my suffering, that God has often spoken to me about the race of endurance my journey of faith is. And that I must run like one who wishes to win. My salvation is a process, one which He has started, and He will complete.
(Php 1:6> “And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.”)

Contentment is a shining light
Php 2:14-16> Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be innocent and pure as God's perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, as you offer them the message of life. If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted.

How can God get any glory from my life, especially now, while my life must appear to the world to be one massive mess? God assures me that He made me for His glory, and He will assure He gets the glory He intended to gain from my life. Even when I can’t figure out how that is possible. Through my study of Philippians, over the past three weeks, I learned that the attitude I have during my trials is crucial. This is where I have to hang my head. Since I moan and complain. A lot! And I argue, about little things that I could rather have let go of...

Rejoice, in suffering
Php 2:17-18>Perhaps my life's blood is to be poured out like an offering on the sacrifice that your faith offers to God. If that is so, I am glad and share my joy with you all. In the same way, you too must be glad and share your joy with me.

Again, I am astounded by Paul’s attitude. He is glad if his life's blood is to be poured out? What is more – he encourages the believers to be glad, with him!
I don’t know about you - but I don’t like suffering. And watching my loved ones suffer, is even worse. But, the journey Jesus is walking with me, now, is gradually changing my view of suffering. Yet, I have quite some distance left to go.

Narrow road
(Php 2:19-21)If it is the Lord's will, I hope that I will be able to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be encouraged by news about you. He is the only one who shares my feelings and who really cares about you. Everyone else is concerned only with their own affairs, not with the cause of Jesus Christ.

When my husband and I entered our Job-years, our friends, even our spiritual family, scattered. We were for the most part alone, often judged, and encouraging encounters with other believers were rare. In the beginning, I was hurt and shocked, especially through the judgmental attitudes of other believers. But, God opened my eyes to see – Jesus had very little support, so did His disciples. During that time, I also read this scripture (Ph 2:19-21). Even Paul, whom I pictured were connected to plenty of believers, wrote that Timothy was the only one who truly shared his passion. We were in good company! I was encouraged.
And, I learned - this is the narrow road.
 
Conclusion
What truly separates Christ-followers from the world, is not the outward appearance of physical blessings, but the attitude with which we endure our suffering and enjoy our blessings. This is my most important takeaway from Philippians chapter 2. What is yours? I’d love to hear – so send me an email or leave a comment on Facebook.

Next week, I journey further through Philippians. I’d love for you to walk along! So, if you’d like, read Philippians chapter 3, this coming week.

Prayer:
Father God, help us, daily, to put on a Christ-attitude. Open our eyes and give us understanding, so that we can see your purpose in our suffering. Strengthen us through the working of Your Holy Spirit, so that we will bring glory to Your name. We praise You, Lord God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Read next> Philippians 3

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