Live out God’s good purposes—with gladness!

Posted Sep 17, 2020

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Daily Scripture

We encourage you to read all of Philippians 2 each day this week. As you do today, focus on verses 12-18, printed below.

Philippians 2:12-18

12 Therefore, my loved ones, just as you always obey me, not just when I am present but now even more while I am away, carry out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes. 14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, innocent children of God surrounded by people who are crooked and corrupt. Among these people you shine like stars in the world 16 because you hold on to the word of life. This will allow me to say on the day of Christ that I haven’t run for nothing or worked for nothing. 17 But even if I am poured out like a drink offering upon the altar of service for your faith, I am glad. I’m glad with all of you. 18 You should be glad about this in the same way. Be glad with me!

Reflection Questions

Verses 5-11 carried us deep into the wonder and mystery of Jesus as God living as one of us. But Paul’s practical concerns were never far away, so verse 12 started with “therefore.” It’s as though he said, “Why did I tell you all this? Because...” And the “because” was “do everything without grumbling and arguing so that you may be blameless and pure.” If they would just allow God to shape them to live that way, Paul would be glad—so “glad” that he repeated the word 4 times!

  • Verses 12-13 were closely related. Verse 12 didn’t mean “save yourself by good deeds,” as some might think. “The word he uses for [“carry out”] is katergazesthai, which always has the idea of bringing to completion….The word Paul uses [in verse 13] is the verb energein… it is always used of the action of God, and it is always used of effective action.”* Paul couldn’t be with them; God still was (cf. Philippians 1:6). When have you had a sense of God’s energy at work in your life?
  • Again, Paul used the Hebrew Scriptures, which he always carried in his head. The idea that if the Philippians lived out their life of faith without arguing they would “shine like stars in the world” came from Daniel 12:3. This may speak to us in a contentious election year, and with the prospect of seeing the United Methodist denomination divide. How can you live a joy-filled life that shines like a star in a world darkened by name-calling and angry words?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I thank you that your divine energy is always at work in me, moving my salvation toward its completion. Make me a beacon of your joy and light to all those who know me. Amen.


* William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, p.42.

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Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Director of Staff Development and Benefits. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

“When you squeeze an orange, you'll always get orange juice to come out. What comes out is what's inside. The same logic applies to you: when someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, or says something unflattering or critical, and out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, depression, or anxiety, that is what's inside. If love and joy are what you want to give and receive, change your life by changing what's inside.”

― Wayne W. Dyer

I heard this quote the other day, and I can’t get this image out of my head. I immediately thought, “What would you get if you squeezed me?” It would be nice if I hadn’t had the opportunity to be squeezed lately, but I think we’ve all been squeezed over these past months.

There were times when I embraced the pressure and leaned into the challenge, but there were multiple scenarios when my reaction to being squeezed wasn’t pretty. You might say it was downright ugly. I pouted and complained. I let my thoughts spiral into the land of worst-case scenario (a favorite stomping ground). This behavior exposed that my inside was suffering from a lack of God’s love and mercy. I was running on empty, and I simply had no joy to give.

And again, it’s important to separate happiness and joy. I will never promise to be happy in all situations, but I can strive to have joy no matter what comes my way. This means that I must be more intentional about what I’m being filled with and how often, because a lack of giving joy isn't measured by the amount of joy going out, but rather by the amount going in.

Let me ask you this - What is inside of you? What comes out of you when you are pressured? If joy is your goal and that’s not what you are emitting, then it could be a sign that you need a good dose of God’s grace. If you find you are not able to give joy, remember that God is near, and he wants to fill you with his joy and mercy. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. It’s given to you freely and abundantly. Let it fill your soul to overflowing.

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