Finding Fruit in Philippians
an SK Bible Study
Week 2: Our Perspective and Purpose
Philippians 1:12-30 (NIV)
(12)Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. (13)As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. (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. (15)It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. (16)The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. (17)The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. (18)But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, (19)for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. (20)I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
(21)For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (22)If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! (23)I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; (24)but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (25)Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, (26)so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
(27)Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel (28)without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved–and that by God. (29)For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, (30)since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Perspective. When life is hard and it seems there is one problem after another, one difficulty after another, what is our first response? Is it “Thank you, God, for using my life to advance the gospel in whatever way you deem best?” or is it “Why me?”
Each of us wants to know that we have purpose – a reason to be here on earth. We want to have success in our jobs – do our work well. Paul, in this passage of Scripture, is teaching and reminding us of our purpose,our job, for this life.
How can Paul be so encouraged, so courageous amidst all that he endured? It seemed as though he was not successful in his work. Many times he was laughed at, beaten, imprisoned, treated poorly, etc. He certainly did not seem like a success any longer in the eyes of the world (as compared to when he was Saul – the learned, religious leader and public authority).
I believe the reason for his positive attitude is because he was finding success in his true life’s work. In verses 12-14, he states, “…what has happend to me has really served to advance the gospel…it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” And he continues in verse 18 after speaking of the false teachers, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice…”.
What was his purpose on earth? His life’s work? It was to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. With that goal ingrained in his mind, he knew he was being successful as he witnessed all of these things occurring.
The comments of these verses found in the Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible really struck me:
Our earnest expectation and hope should not be to be honoured of men, or to escape the cross, but to be upheld amidst temptation, contempt, and affliction. Let us leave it to Christ, which way he will make us serviceable to his glory, whether by labour or suffering, by diligence or patience, by living to his honour in working for him, or dying to his honour in suffering for him.
Is my purpose here on earth to just routinely make meals, change diapers, clean the house, bandage wounds, and discipline my children?
Is my purpose to look at each daily activity as a stepping stone of teaching my children the love of Jesus, so that one day, Lord willing, they will want to be in a loving relationship with Him?
Deuteronomy6:6-9 (NIV) These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Is my purpose just to get up every morning, drive to work, punch in for just the hours necessary, and rush out the door when the workday is done?
Is it to be Christ’s light to the world by the way I work diligently, treat my co-workers, and “preach” the gospel through my actions as well as words?
Acts 20:24 (NIV) However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
Let’s be those that live with true purpose!
Those who profess the gospel of Christ, should live as becomes those who believe gospel truths, submit to gospel laws, and depend upon gospel promises.–Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
Here are some discussion questions. When answering, please be sure to first put the number of the question in your comment box:
- In what area of your life does Satan tempt you the most to respond “Why me?” instead of “Thank you, God, for using me in whatever way you deem best?”
- Let’s brainstorm together. What are some practical ways that you can share the gospel, the love of Jesus, with co-workers?
- I found examples of each fruit of the Spirit being portrayed within these verses. Please choose one fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) and describe where and how it is being used in this passage. If someone has already described one fruit, please choose another one so that we end up having at least 9 responses, with each fruit represented.
Remember to pray for the things that are listed on our Prayer page.
‘See ya’ next week!