Every day, we will spend time studying Philippians together and praying through it for Europe. The Epistle is a thank you letter about partnering for the Gospel. It shows different aspects of partnership and is an encouragement to believers around the world to joyfully serve, and share the Good News with others despite pain, suffering, and difficult circumstances.
Philippi, the first city in Europe to hear the gospel, was a proud Roman colony - a city where the laws and privileges of Rome applied and the worship of emperor Caesar as Lord was required. The small community of believers there love and support Paul and he loves them back. They are distressed to hear that Paul is in prison. But he insists that God can make even bad things work for the furtherance of the gospel. So he prays for them and encourages them, from his own example, to live as citizens of God’s gospel kingdom, even if it means suffering in Caesar’s kingdom - as it did for Paul himself.
Paul challenges the young church in Philippi to live out their unity in Christ. What's the path to such an expression of unity? Humility, says Paul. The apostle calls his readers to follow Christ's radical and extraordinary humility. Because they were united with Christ, they should also imitate Christ. Such a Christ-like attitude will result in greater impact in the world–as they shine like stars–and is exemplified by two dear men: Timothy and Epaphroditus.
What is it that Paul found to be of surpassing value compared to his impressive resume? What kind of prize is worth leaving behind everything, even the good things? And even if Paul was right, could he not use words that were more gentle in describing his fellow believers? In this part of the letter Paul, recognizing the danger of false teaching that was compromising the sufficiency of grace, warns the Philippian believers against robbing the cross of its power.
We live in times of earthquakes as we witness our world shaking badly in various ways. The apostle Paul was no stranger to the land of earthquakes. In the final chapter of his Epistle to Philippians, he reminds the Philippians that experiencing peace and joy is possible even in the worst times. Therefore, he calls them to manifest their Christlike thinking while facing conflicts, adversity, and life difficulties. He also gives thanks for their generous partnering in his mission while giving them an example of contentment in ministry in every circumstance.