The heartbeat of the book of Philippians is for believers to have a Jesus-centered vision of life. How do we find joy in all of life's ups and downs? Jesus! How do we grow in contentment and generosity? Jesus! Where should our focus be so that our life makes sense? Jesus! In just four chapters, 104 verses, Paul mentions his Savior more than forty times. Joy is everywhere in the book of Philippians, and that is because Jesus is present in all places, even in persecution.
Paul’s relationship with the Philippians was forged through struggles, pain, public turmoil, and partnership in ministry. Some of our deepest and longest lasting relationships can include times in the furnace of life together. God forged a deep relationship between Paul and the Philippians through difficult and painful times, and this ancient love letter is his heart-felt message to them, and to us.
As followers of Jesus, we have heard the call to love God with all that is in us and to love our neighbors as ourselves. In this letter, we get a vision of how we should feel about other followers of Jesus and how we should express these feelings openly to them.
Almost everything we do can become a tribute to ourselves, or it can be an act of grace toward others. The decision is up to us. From the simplest of daily activities to the most sacred practices, if we are not careful, we can become self-serving. Paul learned from Jesus and so can we. The best way to walk through each day is saying, “There you are,” and not “Here I am!”
Passionate followers of Jesus will always be a minority. But such a creative and grace-driven minority can change a community, a country, and the world. This happens when God’s people are courageous in opposition, committed to advancing his kingdom, directed by his Word, and willing forgive, serve, and love others.
Jesus was a humble and gracious servant. He left heaven, emptied himself of divinity, lived among us, and died for our sins. When we accept the invitation to follow Jesus, we receive his grace and forgiveness. But we are also called to live as he lived, serve as he served, and love as he loved.
As we speak truth in this world, we must always temper it with grace and love. When we live and walk in the light of God’s truth, we will put Jesus above all else, place our confidence in him, and press forward toward his will each and every day.
What we focus on impacts our outlook, attitude, and reality. God calls us to keep our eyes, hearts, and attention on what honors him. When we do this, we learn to navigate conflict humbly, rejoice even in hard times, pray in times of anxiety, and walk in God’s grace through all of our days.