Paul made it a habit of practicing gratefulness. In not only this letter to the Philippians but in his letter to the Romans he showed his appreciation and encouragement. In Romans 1:8 he writes, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…” Why did he do this? Well, in Philippians 1:7 Paul goes on to add, “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart.” Paul not only practiced a grateful heart, but he went on to affirm the good in people. For when we show appreciation, say thank you, and speak positive words into someone…they are built up, edified, and given new self-worth.
Even the early Church had problems with Church division, and here Paul was pleading with them to unite rather than split into factions. For if you think about it, if the local Church can’t come together and become one voice…how do we expect the world to follow suit? When Jesus called those first disciples, He told them to “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17) And if you look at the other meaning for the Greek word for “perfectly united”… it means to mend or repair broken nets. Now anyone knows you can’t catch fish with torn nets…so how can the Church expect to follow Jesus and be fishers of men when their nets are shredded with division and strife? We as a body of Believers need to become perfectly united together, and mend our nets.
Later in the Bible, the Apostle Paul admonished the Church in Philippi to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) This has to be one of the toughest things to do given mankind’s self-centered, egotistic nature. Instead of seeking out our own 15 minutes of fame, we need to be trying to outdo one another in showing honor. Rather than demanding respect, we need to be recognizing others and praising them for important work they’re doing. Vanity looks for fame and glory, while humility moves “self” off the throne as we esteem others.
The Apostle Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 32:35 urging others not to seek justice themselves out of anger or spite. For Proverbs 20:22 tells us, “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you.” But when we’re angry and frustrated, and think no one has our back…we tend to react badly. It’s at that point that we need to take a deep breath and remember that the Lord tells us that He will defend us. (Jeremiah 51:36)
In this verse the Apostle Paul, (then called Saul) was describing his conversion on the road to Damascus. The Lord’s commission to Paul then was simple…Go, uncover the truth, and open blinded eyes. The Lord commissioned him as a servant, (a bringer of light and confirmation) and a witness, (a minister of the Word of Christ) to both Jew and Gentile. But if we think about it, as Believers, this commission applies to us also. We are all called to tell others about the Good News of Jesus. The easiest way to do that is to share your testimony…your personal story of how Jesus came into your life and how now your life has been changed forever by Him.