If you own a coffee cup, there’s at least a 50/50 chance that verse six is on it. “Don’t be anxious about anything.” Yes! Ok. Sounds like a plan. Now let me get back to being anxious.
You’ve heard of the game “Follow the Leader”? Paul invites us to play a game called “Follow the Follower.” Jesus is clearly the perfect leader for us, but since we don’t have a flesh and blood Jesus walking among us today, I think it’s pretty gracious of God to give us permission to follow the examples of those around us. Let’s be honest though, there are challenges to following the example of people.
Have you ever used every last bit of energy or strength to complete a task? Maybe you competed in athletics and can remember colliding with an opposing player. Maybe you work with your hands and bear the scars. Maybe you perform manual labor for a living and daily come home exhausted.
I didn’t major in history, but I’m a wonderful historian. This is particularly true when remembering my past sin and failure. It’s not that I just remember it, but I can feast on it. Paul gives wonderful advice to folks like me. “Don’t live in the past.” Don’t dwell on past failures.
I have an ideal Christian self. It’s the me I want to be. Wisdom beyond my years. Strength under difficult circumstances. Courage against all odds. Boldness to face enemies with winsomeness. Compassion to love others well.
The Bible teaches us that God’s people will suffer. Peter gives us fair warning when he says, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Suffering comes in so many different forms, but the type Paul refers to here can be so painful because it doesn’t stem from our decisions or our own sin.
One Halloween in elementary school my mother sent me to school dressed as a garage bag. I know my mom loves me, but this was not a good idea. Kids threw trash at me. In their defense, I was dressed like the very thing whose purpose is to hold trash. I’m still recovering.
2020 has been marked by missed opportunities. Students have missed out on graduation ceremonies and proms. Couples have missed out on dream weddings. Some people, tragically, have missed out on opportunities to say goodbye to loved ones. What’s even more tragic is how many people live their lives and miss out on God. Let me show you how easy it is to do.
Rejoice in the Lord. I must admit that sounds very Christian, doesn’t it? It is in the Bible, so I supposed it should sound Christian. But sometimes I read very Christian ideas and hear very Christian words, and I don’t always know if I have a very clear definition of what it is I’m actually saying or believing.
After Timothy, Paul calls out Epaphroditus as a fellow worker in Christ. Honestly, Epaphroditus sounds like a medical condition. “My doctor said the epaphroditus should subside and I’ll be back on my feet in a week.” He may have had a funny name, but he was a faithful friend.
Humble Servant Exalted King
Do you wish you experienced more joy during challenging times? Have you ever struggled with your own spiritual growth? Do you ever wrestle with anxiousness and contentment? Did you know the New Testament book of Philippians addresses each of these questions? Walk with me for 30 days as we travel through Philippians seeking to follow Jesus, the humble servant and exalted king.
Vast: Experiencing the Inexhaustible Love of God
God changes people. He does it all the time. Even now He is changing you and me. One of the primary means that God uses to change us is His Word. I invite you to journey with me for 31 days through the book of 1 John. Read, reflect, and respond to the vastness of God’s inexhaustible love. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”