Friday, September 09, 2022

Acknowledging Grace Produces Interest in Others' Progress in It [2022.09.09 Pastoral Letter]

Dear Congregation,


Philippians 2:12–24 says:

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.


The salvation that God is working in us to will and to work (v12–13) makes us marvelously humble and contented children of God (v14–15), refracting the light of Christ. The apostle wants to know that this is what his labors (v16) have been used to produce in them. Sonship in Christ is proven out by likeness to Him (cf. vv5–11).


One hallmark of those who know that all the goodness in believers comes by the grace of Christ is that they are sincerely interested in how it goes with one another’s souls. For, it is the outworking of Christ's work in them over which they rejoice.


A Pharisaical spirit is demonstrated, among other things, by being uninterested in how things are going with others’ souls. Pharisees “seek their own” (v21a). But if one truly believes that Christ is at work in others by His grace, then one is eager to hear about that work and praise that grace! Such people seek the “the things which are of Christ Jesus” (v21b).


This was what was in Paul (v19) and what was in Timothy (v20) and Paul knew to be in the Philippians (v23)—so that they were interested in how it went with him, and he is interested in how it went with them, and he is sending Timothy because he is of a similar mind.


Let us not be discouraged if the church in our day seems full of those who do not seem to know that all true goodness is of Christ. Paul himself acknowledges here that there are very few like him or Timothy or the Philippians (cf. v20).


If the Lord's work in our day looks similar to how it did the age of Paul and Timothy and the church that received this letter, then we may be encouraged that it is the same Christ working by the same Spirit and so cling to Him, rather than wallow and discouragement over the current state of the church.


Eager to see you and “know your state,”



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