“Philippians is one of Paul’s most autobiographical letters. Writing to a church he founded and loved, Paul described his situation in prison and warned his readers of potential theological dangers to the church. At the core of the letter lies a theology of the cross that unites various exhortations to Christian unity and joy in service.” (HCSB)

1:6: “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The work being described is found through His Spirit working in and through us. In 1:9-11 Paul offers this prayer of encouragement: “And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

1:20-21: “My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” Richard Melick noted that in regards to these verses, “Paul’s final salvation would come through remaining true to Christ in the face of difficulties. Paul did not expect to be ashamed. Christians will be vindicated by persevering in the truth.”

2:3-5: “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus.” Here, Melick pointed out that, “Paul’s concern was balance—looking to the concerns of others as well as one’s own. There is a place for attending to our basic needs. To ‘make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus’ means to value what Jesus values. Since Christ gave Himself for us, we give ourselves to one another.” We read in 2:13-16, 21: “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose. Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. Hold firmly the message of life because all people of the world seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

3:7: “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ.” Melick acknowledged this verse as the fact that, “Heredity and merely human achievements are garbage. Paul’s attitude was a necessary expression of repentance. He did not expect to gain righteousness by this attitude (since right standing before God comes through grace); trusting in human achievements prevents one from obtaining righteousness.” Although it is always good to grow in knowledge and become more mature, it is equally important to grow in our faith and remain humble. God does not demand a specific IQ figure to be His servant. He just pays special attention to the details of our hearts.

In 3:10, 13-15: “My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead. I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also.” Melick provided the following feedback to understand these verses better: “The goal of participation in the final resurrection comes from knowing Christ in every dimension of life. Conformity to death—the result of self-surrender—gives way to life. The Christian’s experience parallels that of Jesus. ‘Mature’ (not ‘sinless’) means thinking and living rightly because of commitment to Christ.”

4:4-8, 11: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving; let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Remaining content in EVERY circumstance is a difficult task that is why in verse 13, Paul declared, “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” It is important to count our blessings and continually give glory to God and trust in Him when things do not seem to be going right in our lives.

Take to heart these final verses from the letter of Philippians found in 4:19-20: “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

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