Philippians 1: 3-7a
3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart.
Paul begins his letter to the Philippians by expressing gratitude for these people, united by the good news of Christ and participating in God’s work together. There is a love between them that is sourced in Christ and the confidence that God continues to complete what has been started in and among them.
- Where do you see God at work in and among those with whom you share life?
- What unites you to them?
- How can you participate with them this week in the work of God?
Gracious God, thank you for gift of community in our process of transformation. Help us to be united around the good news of Christ and the confidence that as we participate in your work on earth, you will bring it to completion. May we hold one another in our hearts, whether we are together or apart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
This passage is packed full of invitations to live like Christ, to use our freedom for the well-being of others. Unity happens when we seek to understand one another more diligently than to be understood ourselves. What a challenge this is during this time, and what a sacred invitation!
- What word in this passage stirs a desire in you to grow in your capacity to reflect Christ?
- Who comes to mind as you think of looking at others as more important than yourself?
- What step can you take this week to be an agent of unity in your context?
Gracious God, in this time of division and uncertainty, we lift up to you our lives and hearts. We ask that you continue to form us to your image, and that we dwell on those things that will shape us into agents of encouragement, consolation, sharing, compassion, and sympathy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
This hymn that Paul inserts into his letter to the Philippians is a great reminder to them of what he is exhorting them to do in the verses before. As we read these words, we can be grateful for Christ’s willingness to relinquish everything in order to unite us to himself and ponder what it looks like for us to follow him in humility.
- What amazes you about Christ’s act of love for us?
- What emotions are stirred in you as you ponder this act of love that led to Christ’s death?
- Where are you being invited to follow Christ into his death?
Gracious Lord – you came as God made flesh, and yet didn’t insist on the glory that is due the King of Kings. Even more, you relinquished everything so that you could reconcile us to God and to one another. Help us to receive your humble gift with gratitude and be willing to lay aside ourselves for the well-being of others. In your name, Amen.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
The glory that we seek as we follow Jesus on his road of humbleness even to death is in deep contrast to the road that many leaders take to power. As his followers, we are invited to set aside our feelings of entitlement and desire for comfort and to even suffer if necessary in order to complete the purpose for which we were called. He is our example and our strength to live for the glory of God.
- Where do you see Christ’s leadership exemplified around you?
- What has it looked like for you to lay aside your rights in order to bless others?
- What stirs you about the description of Christ being exalted?
Gracious God, it is difficult to read these words as an example for us to follow. Help us to see the power and influence we have as an opportunity to serve and bless others in your name and for your glory. Form us into your image that we might live in this world for the sake of others at your agents. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
In times like these, it is easy for our minds to mill around in the anxiety of this time, where we are experiencing loss and witnessing the loss of others. Paul encourages us to find hope in the midst of difficulty and work toward it for well-being of all. He is a good example for us, and as we participate in God’s mission in the world, we too are agents of God’s peace.
- What fills your thoughts today?
- Where in your thoughts do you find truth? Honor? Justice? Purity? Pleasure? Commendation? Excellence? Praise?
- How can your focus on these thoughts guide your attitudes, actions and words today?
Gracious God, in the midst of darkness, help us to find your light today and be your agents of peace. It begins with allowing your light to shine into every part of our being, so we lift our minds, hearts, and bodies to you. Help us to see our world with your eyes and walk into it as a reflection of your love and character. In Jesus’ name, Amen.