KEEPING OUR EYES ON THE PRIZE

Today’s reading includes the second portion of the Paul’s letter to the Philippians (1:27 – 2: -18).  Paul’s encounter with the Philippians is found in Acts 16 and describes Paul’s “Macedonian Call” followed by his decision to leave Asia Minor and enter Macedonia for the first time. His first stop was at the Roman city of Philippi. The church in Philippi was the first recorded church planted by Paul in Europe. Paul had a very close relationship with the Philippian church, and they supported him throughout the rest of his life. Paul wrote this letter to them while he was imprisoned in Rome. In it, he expressed his love for them and the satisfaction he had gained by their fellowship and progress toward maturity in Christ. In contrast to some of his other church letters, this brief letter is marked by love and joy.

There are four main themes in this letter. The first is CITIZENSHIP. The residents of Philippi had been granted Roman citizenship (a big deal!), but Paul reminds them that as believers they were citizens of heaven first and of Rome second. The second theme is HUMILITY and SERVICE. In today’s reading found in 2:1 – 11, Paul majestically describes the incarnation of Christ and displays his humility as an example for us of Christian servanthood. The third theme is RIGHT PRIORITIES. Paul warns the believers of their prideful opponents and against putting their own confidence in the flesh. He encourages them to have the same priority as he had: pressing on toward the prize God has for all who are in Christ. The fourth theme is CONTENTMENT AND JOY. In chapter 4, Paul described his own contentment and joy in the midst of his Roman confinement. Paul was able to be joyfully content in his various trials because he knew what it meant to truly be ‘in Christ’. May we always keep our eyes on the prize that God has for each of us!

by Paul Schmidt, Elder

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