Finding Fruit

Finding Fruit in Philippians

an SK Bible Study


Week 4: Working Together as the Body of Christ

Philippians 2:12-30 (NIV)
(12) Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13) for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
(14) Do everything without complaining or arguing, (15) so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe (16) as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. (17) But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. (18) So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
(19) I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. (20) I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. (22) But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. (23) I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
(25) But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. (26) For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. (27) Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. (28) Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. (29) Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, (30) because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.


As I was reading this passage, my mind quickly divided it into three parts: the first being Paul encouraging and challenging his individual partners (vs. 12-18), the second part is Paul sending out his partner to observe and participate in specific ministries (vs. 19-24), and the third part is Paul sending back the helper that the church had sent to him.

Paul is reminding and discipling his partners in these first few verses. He is encouraging each person, each individual, to take it upon him/herself to “do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure…” so that as “children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation…you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life”. Paul’s words apply to us just as much today as they did for the Philippian church to whom he wrote this letter because of the fact that our generation also is “crooked and depraved”. How many times do we see people arguing for “what they deserve”? How many times a day do we see people complaining about everything under the sun? How many times have you complained today? This week? Life without Christ is always going to be feeling like it is missing something – no satisfaction, no peace. People try to make up for that “something” by complaining, arguing, trying to get ahead, and/or looking out for #1. Paul is reminding us that we should be “shining like stars” – brilliant reminders of God’s peace and tranquility to life.

The children of God should differ from the sons of men. The more perverse others are, the more careful we should be to keep ourselves blameless and harmless. The doctrine and example of consistent believers will enlighten others, and direct their way to Christ and holiness, even as the light-house warns mariners to avoid rocks, and directs their course into the harbour. Let us try thus to shine. (commentary)


In verses 19-24, Paul is sending Timothy to the church at Philippi – an opportunity for Timothy to participate in the ministry of the local church as well as send updates to Paul. Reading this comes at a timely fashion in my life (but that shouldn’t be a surprise since the Lord always gives us the ‘daily bread’ we need!). In a sense, I feel at the same place as where Paul was in these verses. He was sending out his ministry partner to represent the two of them and to further the ministry of the gospel in other areas. In the next two months, Max will be traveling to two different countries, both to represent the two of us as a ministry team as well as to further the ministry of the gospel. I realize that Paul probably felt many of the emotions that I am sensing with the need to “send out” Max. However, I look forward to being “cheered when I receive news about…” (vs.19) the ministries that he will be observing and participating in.

The last group of verses, 25-30, also reminded me of a personal missionary experience. Last year, we had two short-term missionaries stay with us to home school our children while Max and I attended language school and worked through the many steps of transition and official paperwork. Reading these verses reminded me of the blessing that we received in having these two young women sent to us. The local church that “sent [them] to take care of [our] needs” (vs. 25b) supported them in many ways, including financially.

Near the end of their time here, I know they were longing to be with their families and church, just as Epaphroditus was in verse 26 (“He longs for all of you.”) They offered tremendous assistance to us during our time of need; yet, we were also glad to send them back so when their families and church saw them again, they would be glad and I would have less anxiety (vs. 28). Even though they were not our daughters, there was still a deep sense of responsibility to be sure they were healthy and well taken care of, just as Paul eluded in this text concerning Epaphroditus. We are so grateful, both to that local church as well as to both women, for the sacrifice they gave to help us in our time of need.

The body of Christ working together for His glory – what a beautiful thing that is! If we each do our part, His light will shine that much brighter in this dark world.


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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
(When answering, please be sure to first put the number of the question in your comment.)

  1. Complaining. How can we help to eliminate it – both in our lives and in the lives we are hoping to touch with the love of Christ?
  2. Describe how Paul was sensing peace in this passage.
  3. This statement from the commentary really struck me:

    The children of God should differ from the sons of men. The more perverse others are, the more careful we should be to keep ourselves blameless and harmless. The doctrine and example of consistent believers will enlighten others, and direct their way to Christ and holiness.

    My tendency at times, when others become perverse or prideful, is to brush them aside and ignore them; however, I am beginning to realize that this is where true humility (loving them just the same) actually begins. What is your thought on that?

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Remember to pray for the things that are listed on our Prayer page.

‘See ya’ next week!

4 Responses to “Wk.4: Working Together as the Body of Christ”

  1. Carol Foote Says:

    1. I tend to look on the positive side of everything and whenever I complained about something, it wasn’t helpful. So over the years I have learned that complaining is not helpful, it is hurtful. So each day when I pray I ask God to fill me with the wisdom and words necessary for whatever I encounter that day and to help me keep an attitude and actions that reflect whose I am.
    2. It seems to me that Paul’s peace comes from the joy he is experiencing as a result of believers love and steadfastness in their faith.
    3.When others are perverse or prideful, I pray for them and ask the Lord to help me have compassion and understanding. With His help my reactions and comments are appropriate. On my own, I shudder to think of what it was like, but realize now the importance of “praying at all times”.

  2. sincerelykristin Says:

    1. When someone is complaining during a conversation we are having, I try to steer to a different topic or add a positive aspect of what we are talking about. It seems to help the person to refocus on the positive.
    2. To me, Paul seemed to have peace in his relationships with others – whether with the Philippian church, Timothy, or Epaphroditus.

  3. Lynn Says:

    1. When myself or someone is complaining I try to put a positive twist on it and take a look at the “BIG” picture! What is there really to complain about? We all do it. We just have to learn to do it less often and to show others how to respond in a positve manner by trying to respond positively ourselves!
    2. He is sensing peace as he is willing to send back Epaphroditus who has helped him get to his point of peace.
    3. Sons of men are in search of the truth or are lacking the truth of Christ in their lives. We need to listen to them and help show them the truth with our actions, reactions, and the things we say. It’s easy at times to agree or disagree with someone just because we want to fit in, but these are the times when we need to “keep ourselves blameless and harmless” and stand apart with our true opinions. Sometimes we end up pushing people further away and other times we end up making closer friends. I would rather make the closer friend that knows my convictions and likes me just the same or better, than the friend that was made on false premises and I always seem to feel uncomfortable around! Believe me I’ve done both, but I am learning that Christ needs to be first in my life and that I need to be transparent with that!
    Once again, I hope I’m making sense and that I’ve actually answered the questions because I don’t always understand the questions that well! I’m trying!

  4. Wendy D' Says:

    1 &2) On the occasion that I may be faced with frustrations, I may complain, however, I do strongly believe that we must have a person and/or persons to keep us accountable. There are times when I feel that it is of utmost importance for myself, or to allow a friend, to ‘exhale’ complaints and then we take time to pray together and ‘breathe in’ a refreshing renewal from God. I am keenly aware that prayer is the best route to take to get past those frustrations.
    Let’s face it, there are times in this dark and perverse world that can really drag us under. I cannot imagine living on this planet without the peace of knowing I have a Father in heaven to bring me out of the darkness and He has brought other believers alongside to help me get through the tough stuff.
    I think that is where Paul gets peace. He cherished those people who came alongside him during the tough stuff. (Timothy, Epaphroditus, the Philippian church) They were a blessing to him.

    3) Unfortunately I know many people who do not ‘get it’. (some with Christian backgrounds) THAT, in and of itself, is very frustrating. I am in close contact with several ‘complainers’. Sometimes it is very difficult to not ‘complain’ about their complaining!!
    I totally agree, Kristin, about ‘loving them just the same’. Many years ago, God directed me to the passage in 1 Peter 3: 1-2. “ …if some husbands do not obey God’s teaching, they will be persuaded to believe without anyone’s saying a word to them. They will be persuaded by the way their wives live. “ NCV
    I know it is out of context, but I believe that this same truth can apply in many cases to people other than a spouse. I think it parallels the commentary: “The doctrine and example of consistent believers will enlighten others, and direct their way to Christ and holiness.”

    Frankly, it is not always easy, but I am convinced it is what we must do.

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