Week 7: Philippians 2:12-18

Warm up for the Hike 

Consider sharing highs and lows from this week. After this, consider sharing with one another what you are thankful for. 

Introduction 

I hope you all have been enjoying the renewing of our hearts and minds as we walk through the book of Philippians this summer. Last week Laura shared with us Christ’s humility in the incarnation. A quote she referenced by Timothy Keller  particularly speaks to me: “the essence of gospel- humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself; it is thinking of myself less.” I am praying that this would become true in our lives as we seek to abide in Jesus together. This week we will dive into  Philippians 2:12-18 as we let the Holy Spirit transform us from complaining to rejoicing. 

Scripture 

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Observation – What does the passage say? 

  • Paul uses the word “therefore” to connect the previous passage about Christ’s work of humility to his encouragement of the believers to continue to obey as an appropriate response to what Christ has done (v 12). 
  • It is God who works in us to transform our lives for his purposes (v13). 
  • Paul contrasts grumbling and arguing to being pure and blameless (v 14-15). 
  • Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:5 in order to convey the importance of the way God’s people should act (v 15). 
  • Paul sees his success as the believers living in joy and gratitude, not bitterness and anger (v 16). 

Interpretation- what does the passage mean? 

After Paul teaches the believers about the humility necessary for Christ to dwell among us and die for our debt, he transitions to talking about what this means for the believers’ lives. It is almost as if he is doing a small bible study with the audience by walking through observation, interpretation, and application, with verse 12-18 being part of the application. In light of Christ’s work on the cross and through the resurrection, which he did out of great humility, we as God’s children are to live lives of freedom and joy in all circumstances as we walk in obedience to God’s will for our lives. It is very striking to me that Paul sees his success in the believers’ “shining among them like stars as you hold firmly to the word of life” Paul clearly sees that from a firm understanding of what Christ laid down in order to come near to us, we are to lay down our fleshly desires to blame others, complain about our circumstances, and live in bitterness and anger. If we lay these down, we have room to pick up joy and gladness, that come from clinging to the Word of Life. 

Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me? What does the passage teach me about God?

This week, let’s take some time to rejoice and be glad in what God has done. He has freed us from our bondage to sin and brought into a living hope that will never fade away. In Romans 8:1 we read that there is “no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set your free from the law of sin and death.” This means he has taken away all shame and guilt and replaced it with an ever flowing river of rejoicing in our hearts. In Galatians 5:1 we read that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This week, stand firm against our temptation to let our hearts and mind go wild with discontentment. Resist being burdened again by the negative thoughts that so often cloud of mind. Cling to these verses from Philippians, Romans, and Galatians, and let God transform your heart, that you may shine among this world like stars in the night sky. Jesus promises in Matthew 11 that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Our burden is not heavy but light! 

Homework

Set a goal to reflect upon Philippians 2:19-30 for 15 minutes every day this week while moving through the spiritual rhythm of observation, interpretation, and application. Read it many times in one sitting as you let the words soak into your soul. Also, practice turning from bitterness and anger to rejoicing and gladness by writing down five things you are thankful for every day. 

Scripture Memory 

Continue memorizing Philippians 2:1-8. Adding on two new verses may seem intimidating at first, but memorizing sentences can be much easier than memorizing fragmented clauses. I personally have never been good at memorizing off of note cards, so I like to read the passage I am memorizing over and over and over again, and day by day it begins to be written on my heart. It is amazing how quickly Scripture integrates into part of your thought life and flows into heart language. I pray that those of you who share my similar restraint to memorization will find this method encouraging and successful!

This week let’s dwell in God’s love and freedom together- we are fully loved by our Creator even on our worst days. After all, this is what the book of Philippians is all about!

– Emma

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