25) Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,
26) so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.
27) Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
-Paul is convinced that he will be freed from prison that his work among the Philippians may continue. (see last post in this series- An Instrument of Peace )
-There is a manner of conduct worthy of the Gospel.
-Whatever the outcome of Paul's imprisonment Paul encourages the Philippians to stand firm unified in spirit and mind for the Gospel.
Progress is the word that jumped out to me as I read these verses. I have been a believer since I was a little girl, so let's just say roughly 40 years or so. Being raised in a christian home there was never a time I did not believe and I cannot pinpoint a time that I actually "gave my life to Christ." I know so much more now than I did back then and I think my life reflects Christ more today than it has in the past. I have made a lot of progress in the faith over the years.
My beloved husband and I just celebrated 29 years of marriage yesterday. We have had our ups and downs but we are definitely a better couple today than on that day when we first made our vows to one another. When love is new there is a certain joy, an excitement, a giddiness. At some point we have to take the bridal clothes off and get to work. There is a lot to learn about one another. Would you be surprised to learn that some of the things that bring me great joy are not things that Ken feels the same way about? And so my beloved man turns the car around when his wife squeals, "There's a quilt shop!" and walks into that new shop with me with a smile on his face and a lightness to his step. He patiently waits as I take my time over the fabrics imagining what they might look like in a quilt. He has even discovered a few shops along the way for me. This is no ordinary man. This is a man who had no idea what he was committing to back in that March of 1984 for his bride was not yet a quilter.
We are not the same young couple that stood before friends and family that day.
And that is a good thing. I am not the same woman that I was. I have made a lot of progress. I hope to continue to make progress over the course of the rest of my life in this earthly body. Not just any kind of progress though. I want to progress in my faith.
I have been struggling with keeping a daily quiet time. It's not that I don't have the time, I think I have been low on joy. What do you do when that "first love" thrill is gone? If you do not tend love it will stagnate; it may even get lost. How do I tend to a relationship that is spiritual. For me it has always come back to the Bible. Much of the progress I have made in my life that does not come from a focus on the Word of God ends up being undone over time, and for good reason. Anytime I stray from God's Word I lose that sense of standing firm in one spirit and one mind that Paul speaks of. There is a lot of dissension going on in the church today that I believe comes from ignoring or dismissing what the Bible has to say. Unlike me, God does not need to make progress- He is already perfect. So is His Word. But we struggle with wanting to be like God on our terms- Eve's dilemma in many ways. "Did God really say?" is a question that can easily be answered, and yet all too often we do not like the answer He gives. Did God really say I should love my neighbor as myself? Well, yes He did: in Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galations 5:14, and James 2:8. James even says that if I am doing that I am doing well.
I have a husband who has been a wonderful model of all of those verses- far better than I. What will it look like to love my husband as myself this week? Do I need to change some thought patterns? What do I do with those habits of his that annoy me? When was the last time I "turned the car around" for him? Boy! I did not see these verses leading me there when I read them...I had in mind something about my relationship to the body of believers. This is so much more personal; that is progress. It is even a manner of progress worthy of the Gospel for the Bible has a good bit to say to me about what kind of wife I should be too which implies it is important to the life of the body as well.
Grace and peace to you dear friends,
21) For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
22) But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.
23) But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;
24) yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
-To live or die, both have their benefits.
-Paul knows his life will produce fruit as he continues to live for Christ.
-To be with Christ would be better for Paul than to remain.
-His concern is for the people he would leave behind, knowing that he can do more for them, even viewing it as "more necessary for your sake."
Often when I read Paul's letters I am just left feeling that I am nowhere near the bond-servant that he was. Someone asked me recently what I would have done in the face of someone like Hitler. I responded that in all honestly I don't know. I would like to think that I would lay down my life for my King, but then I think about Peter on the night of Jesus arrest. It was pointed out to me that I have something that Peter did not- the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I'm not sure what the application is here, but it is an interesting point to ponder. Maybe just a reminder that this life is not the goal; to live on in the flesh is temporary no matter what. I do think that to have such an attitude, "to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better" would have a positive impact on my desire to be bolder, to share Christ courageously as I live this life- certainly, as Paul recognizes, that would be good for those the Lord has placed me among. At least I hope it is good for them. Maybe it is within that thought, that my application lies....
Lord, make me an instrument for Your good.
Grace and Peace,
I am a woman with a Mary heart and these are my musings as I read and study God's Word
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