Introduction to Philippians:
This was to be the first European city that Paul planted a church in. Philippi was a Roman city that Paul was able to plant on his second journey and visited it 5 years later on his third missionary journey. Paul had a deep love for this church and they were concerned for him while he was in house arrest in Rome. Paul wrote this letter to them while he was in house arrest. The theme of Philippians is about joy and it is mentioned some 19 times in this short letter. When we have the mind of Christ, we can have the joy….and that is what Paul is really trying to remind them…despite the sad times of the day. This is all about encouragement and not once is sin mentioned in this letter.
Vs. 6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” What a great verse! Paul didn’t have much to be joyful for from a human perspective. He had been illegaly arrested, taken to Rome and was awaiting trial. To make matters worse, there was some division in the church at Philippi. But he remained focused and selfless…and his message was one of a person who had a single mind to do the right thing. His encouragement was the same to others. The church will always have its detractors & naysayers, that is why Paul all the more exhorted them to not be frightened (vs. 28) of consequences or the enemy. And of course you can’t help but see the emphasis that Paul had on the preaching & sharing of the Gospel!
Regarding application…Suffering to Encouraging. Vs. 14, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” What a awesome reminder & perspective Paul had! Rather than feel sorry for himself & his bondage…Paul would use that as a means to encourage all the more. If Paul had sulked, complained & given up…imagine how all the churches in the Roman provinces would have reacted. They too would have been dismayed and live in fear of their own life. But because Paul was so confident & caring of others, that would and did, encourage others that might not have had the strength to do it.
I think we underestimate the power of one person. Yet, time and time again…You, I, each of us individually can make such a powerful witness! It’s easy to doubt the power of one small human being, but when you put Christ at the helm…anything can be done. It’s not just about those “feel good” extraordinary stories of amazing people who did wondrous things (Mother Teresa, Jim Elliot, Billy Grahm, etc…) But there are so many untold stories of people like you & I that can make such a difference when we go through struggles. Rather than feel sorry for us or try to hide them out of shame or embarrassment…we stand up over them and let Christ heal & take control. When others see the faith & trust we have despite our circumstances, that indeed is a powerful things. So the next time you go through a specific trial…remember that how you deal with it can directly affect not only yourself, but also be a very opportune moment to let Christ shine brighter than the trial!