Let’s continue reading through Philippians – on to the next chapter!
Paul begins by speaking of encouragement in verses 1-2. Webster’s definition of “encouragement “is the act of encouraging : the state of being encouraged… something that encourages.” The base word “encourage” means, “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope : HEARTEN… to attempt to persuade : URGE… to spur on : STIMULATE… to give help or patronage to : FOSTER.” We are called (as Christ’s followers) to support each other, especially during difficult times – like during the recent coronavirus pandemic, for example. It is a relief to know that someone is else is there.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
The letter continues by asking the people of Philippi to be selfless, unconcerned for their own needs, and to watch out for one another in verses 3-7. It also reminds us that Jesus, who was also known as the Prince of Peace, had also chosen a life of sacrifice and service.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men.
We are reminded of Christ’s submission and brave majesty in verses 8 – 11.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross. For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Paul instructs the Philippians (and us) in verses 14-18 not to complain – to live as examples, shining like a city on a hill (or, you could say, like a lighthouse next to the sea).
Do all things without complaining or arguments; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding firmly the word of life…
The rest of the letter relates to Timothy and Epaphroditus (ee-PAEH-fro-DIE-tuhs) – two of Paul’s students, who also acted as messengers and aided in serving the communities where they travelled. In a similar manner, we are called to see to the needs of others in verses 19-24.
But I hope, in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus... Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me…
Paul finishes his letter in verses 25-30 by letting the Philippians know that why he sent Epaphroditus back to Philippi – because he missed them, was concerned that they knew he was very sick (he almost died in coming to help Paul), and reminded the people of Philippi that they should have great respect for Epaphroditus because he met a need that the people of Philippi had failed to fulfill, perhaps by choice or ignorance, it isn’t clear.
But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need, because he was longing for you all and was distressed… For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him… so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I have sent him… so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold people like him in high regard, because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to compensate for your absence in your service to me.”
Christ’s followers are called to be ready to serve in any capacity at any time. Are you ready?