When Martha’s pastor visited her in the hospital, she assured him that she wasn’t afraid. “I’m ready to die,” she said. “I’m glad to hear that,” he replied. “But what if you recover? Are you also ready to live?”
Today’s passage begins with a command that may seem like an impossibility. How do we live “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (v. 27)? Paul’s challenge is simply a call to live like those who have believed the promises of the gospel. The gospel promises forgiveness and power. Those who conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel live as if those promises are true. They have the hope of eternal life and rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to obey God. They are not trying to live up to the gospel’s promises but seek to live them out in real life.
For the Philippians, this meant standing together for Christ and standing firm in the face of opposition. To stand together for the gospel, believers must work together as one. Churches often compete with one another like merchants who are trying to sell the same product. But Paul envisions a very different approach. For such unity to exist, there must be agreement about the message. We are not looking for customers. We are “striving together as one for the faith of the gospel” (v. 27). When it is motivated by the hope of the gospel, this kind of unity is proof of the validity of the church’s message. It is also a sign of God’s ultimate victory over those who would seek to destroy the church. The ability to stand despite opposition is a gift from God. It is also foreshadowing of the final judgment when God will destroy those who oppose Him.
>> Have you been ridiculed and even punished for your faith in Jesus Christ? Ask God to keep your faith strong and grant you the strength to continue to live for Christ.
Life’s trials are pressing, sometimes seeming more real to us than salvation. Nurture our faith, Lord God, so we may have the strength to endure ridicule, judgment, or even violence on Your behalf.