Sunday, January 29, 2012

Scripture Sunday: The Book of Philippians

Philippians is always an uplifting book to read because, unlike other churches Paul wrote to, the church at Philippi does not need a lot of chiding or correcting. Despite having a few small issues related to church unity, they are a well-adjusted church who love God and love other people.

Paul's introduction shows just how much he cares for these people: "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you" (1:3) he says, and just a short while later, "I have you in my heart" (1:7). My own heart is touched when I read things like this. It really does seem like Paul views himself as their brother/father/friend, and he prays for the people at Philippi and longs to see them again. And he goes on to list his prayers for them, in a highly specific way which shows that he really does have their best interests at heart--he wants them to grow closer to Jesus and to "approve things that are excellent" and to "be sincere and without offence".

This particular letter is written while Paul is in jail, but he tells the Philippians that his imprisonment has actually worked out to help further the cause of the gospel because some people have now grown more bold about sharing their faith. Being in prison does not bother Paul very much. He isn't even afraid of losing his own life as a martyr for Jesus--in fact, he describes himself as being caught between actively wanting to leave this world and be with the Lord and wanting to stay and help care for the churches.

In chapter 2, Paul reminds the Philippians to remain united and to stand together in Christ. "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (2:3-4). To me, this verse describes the very core of the Christian attitude towards others; I am not better than you, and I am going to think of your needs before my own. Humility and selflessness are traits to be prized and aspired to.

The closing part of chapter 4 is my favorite part of this book, and I've tried to memorize the helpful list of things on which godly people should focus their thoughts: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (4:8).