Finding Fruit

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?
OR
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?
OR
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:

  1. 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?”
  2. Let’s brainstorm together. What are some practical ways that you can share the gospel, the love of Jesus, with co-workers?
  3. 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!

13 Responses to “Wk.2: OUR Perspective and Purpose”

  1. katina Says:

    You really hit it home to me with this one, Kristin! I’ve totally been feeling that my purpose here has been to make meals, change diapers, clean, bandage and discipline! Thanks for reminding me of my TRUE purpose!!
    #1- My first response to my kids arguing is frustration instead of the idea that God can use me at that very moment.
    #3 – It’s clear that Paul is very patient in his current situation; even verging on content just knowing that he is being used by God.

  2. Carol Foote Says:

    1. Since our return from Mexico, we have been hit financially, emotionally and physically. The physical has caused me to ask “why me?”. After reading this passage I have decided to make the most of the situation and see what opportunities await me at the clinic, pharmacy, lab or wherever. Who knows what God has in mind, I’m ready…
    3. Peace, it appears that no matter the circumstance Paul remains at peace and is joyful. He may long for something else, but is at peace with whatever decision God makes. Right now I have a peace and know God is in charge of my health. Praise the Lord.

  3. Lynda Says:

    1. Since my hysterectomy for uterine cancer in 2003 my right back/hip go out. I can do the simplest thing and out it goes. It is very frustrating. However, I have learned that the more I walk and stretch the longer it takes to go out. I just realized it has been month’s since I’ve been to the chiropractor! So go away Mr. Devil.
    2. I had one of the guys ask how my picnic went Sunday. I told him that despite the rain we had a great time.
    3. Joy–verse 18 I will continue to rejoice.

  4. Christine Says:

    1. I found that since I have been home from Chile, I really find Satan getting in my way with finding out where I am supposed to be right now in life. I tend to feel that my life isn’t going anywhere or isn’t for the Lord because I’m just trying to finish up school and find a job. BUT, the Lord has really been pressing upon me that, Christine this ok because right now your job is to be substitute teaching and showing the kids in the schools that Christ does love them. I can get up and go into work with a positive mind set, that some how I am going to reach out to the students that I am working with for that day because I know that the Lord is with me and that is what he wants me to be doing at that moment, rather than getting frustrated that no other teaching jobs have come up for me. I also look at finishing the one class up for my Master’s as preparing for something down the road rather than falling into the rut of “I just want to be done”.
    2. Part of my answer for this is above in #1, but to start off with work, the sad part is, I am not allowed to talk with the kids in a public school about my faith, so I have to show them that Christ and I care about them through my actions and what I say to them during the day. I like asking them one on one throughout the day how everything is going in their day and life and when I am walking down the hallways giving a big smile. This is especially with the ones who seem most needy. When they make mistakes, which I understand that we all do, I am firm, but also show that they are forgiven and can move on. With my co-workers, I smile and show that I am interested in knowing who they are.
    3. (27)Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. This really deals with all of the fruits of the Spirit. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfullness, Gentleness, and Self-control. If we don’t use at least one of these at a time or combine them, then we are not conductng ourselves according to the gospel and need to reevaluate our thoughts and actions.🙂

  5. Nancy Carter Says:

    1. I think Satan most tempts me in this way regarding being single. It’s easy to sit back and wait for my “real” adult life to begin when/if God blesses me with a spouse rather than focusing on the ability to serve God without distraction or other responsibilities.
    2. I read recently in a business-related blog “Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness” (www.hellomynameisscott.com) and while the intent was clearly not about sharing Christ with others, I think the principle applies. Consistently displaying the fruit of the Spirit rather than occasionally evangelizing co-workers is much more effective.
    3. I think Paul’s response to the false prophets displays kindness. He is clear on the fact that they are wrong, but then focuses on how God can still use what they are doing rather than focusing on their transgressions.

  6. Rindy Says:

    1.Because I now see how so many experiences I’ve been through are a way that God has used me to reach out to others, I now rarely ask ‘why me?’–it’s more of a ‘ok, here’s another opportunity to use for God’. When I do ask, it’s usually feeling sorry for myself when my kids don’t appreciate what I do.

    2. At work I will frequently talk about things that happen at church, like “yesterday at church” or “we were talking at church”, etc. The other thing I started doing which really opens the door is I always have a book that I’m reading or a Christian CD in my hand as I walk into a school or on my desk. It almost always prompts someone to ask about it, which leads to great conversations!!

    3. faithfulness–in v. 29 in the NLT it reads: “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together.” yup–I would say that’s pretty faithful!

  7. Carissa Vincent Says:

    1. For me my why me moments come when I have flares of my rheumatoid arthritis. I have two kids and a very understanding husband, but I do have pity parties for myself sometimes.Why should I have to struggle with this? I tend to forget that God will use this and me for His purposes.

    2.I think the best way for me to demonstrate God’s lovee and message is through my positive attitude and my work ethic.

    3.self-control – vs 21 Paul could have tried to find a way to kill himself to be with Christ.


  8. 1. I have Crohn’s and when I think I am crusing through life, boom I have a attack. My first thought is what did I do wrong. I know GOD is slowing me down for one reason or another.
    3.In vs-16 When you speak of GOD you should always have love in your heart. I know GOD has a better plan for me, I just need to stay out of the way so he can do his job.

  9. Bev Says:

    1. I usually find that in the true crisis times in life I am able to avoid the “why me” and really trust God’s promises to be with me and to guide and direct me and bless. It’s in the daily frustrations of life that I forget that God sometimes that God is conforming me to his image, and trying to transform my life to better reflect His character. I’m daily asking the Holy Spirit to prompt me to do just what vs. 27 says we should do, and in fact, this has really become a verse I frequently repeat to myself before tough conversations that may contain conflict!
    2. One of the ways I try to share the love of Jesus with co-workers is to go the extra mile and live out the golden rule. My co-workers know that I am a Christian, so making sure that my life/work always reflect acting in the way that Jesus would have acted—being patient, loving, forgiving, extending myself to others, etc.–is so important.

  10. Lynn Says:

    1. Ashley started kindergarten this year and I am home to get her on and off the bus. My neighbor asked if I would put her son on and off as well. I said yes, but when school started I wish I had said no. I felt like the relationship with my own kids was being disrupted, but it hadn’t even been a week! I realize now that I have a chance to witness to this boy and his family as I am not sure if they are Christians or even go to church. I know every day won’t be perfect, but at least they are settling into a routine that I am comfortable with and not pulling my hair out! I guess my point is, when do you say no? Would Jesus say no? In my case, He probably would have said yes and I can always say no next year if this year doesn’t work out and the situation drives me too crazy!
    2. I struggled with my job at one point in my career. I received an e-mail from Barry’s aunt right about that time that read “trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.” She had no idea what I was going through, so was that message a coincidence? I don’t think so! I printed it and put a copy of it in plain sight on my desk at work about 7 years ago! My desk is the first desk you see as you walk through the door. We have roughly 10 desks in the room. I also have posted the verse Colossians 3:23, 24
    Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,as working for the Lord, not for men,
    since you know that you will receive
    an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
    It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
    ~ New International Version ~
    I also try to stick in phrases to my co-workers like The Lord has a plan… and God must have wanted… Doing this used to be difficult and made me uneasy, but the more you do it the better it feels to get The Lord’s name out there in people’s minds and they know that you are a Christian. Whether they think I am a Jesus freak or not is beside the point! I think they respect me for being honest about my convictions. I will be starting my new job soon! I’ll keep you posted!

  11. Lynn Says:

    I love Nancy’s #2!

  12. Lynn Says:

    Feeling sorry for ourselves is common I’m sure! Rindy’s #1 reflects on this. I feel sorry for myself at work sometimes. I feel under appreciated for what I do! Why!! I don’t need the affirmation from people here on earth when I have God to report to, right!? just a thought =)

  13. Lynn Says:

    One more comment! I’m sure you’re laughing at this point Kristin! Attitude is everything! We can be positive or we can be negative! It’s our choice! Participating in this study makes me accountable to be more positive! =) God Bless and good night!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s