Friday, April 30, 2021

2021.04.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:16–18

Read Philippians 2:16–18

Questions from the Scripture text: To what does the apostle hope they will hold fast (Philippians 2:16)? What will he do if they do? When? Why? As what does the apostle think he might be being poured out (Philippians 2:17)? Upon what sacrifice or worship/ service? How would he respond to be pouring out this way? What does he want them to do (Philippians 2:18)? With whom?

The apostle has just said that Christians should stand out: blameless in the midst of perversity (Philippians 2:15a) and lights in a dark world (Philippians 2:15b). It is quite possible that in Philippians 2:16a, the apostle has in mind Peter’s words John 6:68–69. In a world where many are denying Christ’s divine kingship and often abandon Him, the apostle hopes that the Philippian believers will never do so—that they would say, “where would we go?” and instead hold fast to Him Who has the words of eternal life.

This is worth running for and rejoicing over.

Currently, the apostle is putting forth strenuous effort. He has called them to strenuous effort (work out your own salvation with fear and trembling), and both terms that he is using of his own part in Philippians 2:16 indicate significant exertion: run and labor.

Why is it worth putting such effort into it on his part? Because in the day of Christ, the things that were worth rejoicing over at the last will be those that have ongoing significance in that day. A sacrifice unto God’s glory is not something lost, but something gained. 

This is what he calls the Philippians’ service of faith unto the Lord and holding fast the words of eternal life. He gives their effort the main billing. But he doesn’t want his efforts to be for nothing (“vain”). He is happy participating in the offering, even if it is just the “drink offering” portion that is poured out upon the main sacrifice.

Christ gets all the glory. It will be the day of Christ. It will have been the work of Christ (God, Who died for us on the cross, and Who worked in us both to will and to work). The work will have been done by the Word of Christ, the word of life.

But there is a sharing of glory and joy, and believers are looking forward both to Christ being exalted in each of our lives, and to rejoicing over the part that each of us had. Not only does the apostle say that he hopes to rejoice over them (Philippians 2:16), but also when his own portion has contributed, he wants them on that day to be glad and rejoice in his behalf (Philippians 2:18). So in God, and in Christ, and in each of us in one another’s lives, that day will be one of mutually reinforcing, reciprocating, compounding joy.

Surely, something that will be worth such rejoicing then is worth strenuous effort in running and laboring now!

How are you putting effort into your own sanctification? How are you putting effort into others’?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH469 “Who Are These, Like Stars Appearing”

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