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.
Our Christian journey isn’t perfect, for everyday we mess up. We say things we shouldn’t…or out of anger and frustration we act unkindly. Holiness isn’t something that we’re suddenly bestowed with when we say “Yes” to Jesus…it’s a process…a daily effort towards perfection. Philippians 1:6 tells us, “That being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This journey towards holiness – towards perfection, is God’s purpose for you. And as you walk in the Spirit, you’ll discover that His ultimate plan and purpose for you is that process towards holiness.
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.
When the Lord brings to mind a person…what do you do? You may say to yourself, “I haven’t touched base with that person in a long time, I wonder how they’re doing…and leave it at that. But have you ever thought that there’s a reason the Lord laid on your heart that individual? God wants you to do two things. The first is to pray, thanking God for them and asking for His Will to be done in their life. But secondly, He wants you to contact them. We are to love one another, and your encouragement may be the very thing they need that day.
This is what the Lord said to Saul, (later Paul) on that hot and dusty Damascus road. When we are born again, we have a glimpse of what the Lord has in store for us…visions of the work He wants to accomplish through us. But suddenly fear and doubt take over, for the visions are so large and we feel so small and inadequate. That’s when we need to take a look at this Scripture again, for the Lord says that He was with Paul not only then, but would be into the future… revealing to him more as Paul obediently moved forward. So much, that later in his ministry, Paul proclaimed in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Please remember this, you too can do all things through Him that gives you strength.
These scriptures beg the question…”What are You asking of me Lord?” Foremost, Jesus is asking for commitment. Not just lip service, or Sunday only acknowledgement… No, He’s asking for sold-out, unwavering determination to follow Him no matter the cost. Jesus is also asking for conviction. That’s a gut belief that He died on the Cross and rose again for me so that I may have eternal life. Then too, Jesus is asking for conformity. He wants me to become more like Him. Finally, Jesus is asking that I give up control. Now this is probably the most frightening but the most freeing request of His…For to go deeper with Jesus means releasing command of myself and trusting Him more.
You may think you live a blameless and upright life, but it will never measure up before God. It’s not until you recognize that you can’t save yourself. No amount of right living and good deed doing will save your soul from hell. That’s because the only way to God is through Jesus…the only way to salvation is by believing that Jesus died for your sins…the only way to heaven is by uniting yourself with Jesus by faith. And this saving faith will never disappoint as you learn to trust in Him.