In Philippians 1:27, the apostle Paul repeats a frequent theme of his: that Christians let their lives be worthy of the gospel.
This idea is a powerful one. What Paul is telling the church is what we all need to hear—and, in fact, what he needed to hear himself.
Paul issues this exhortation to the Christians at Philippi in the context of Philippians 1:19–22. In these verses, Paul shares that he is in the midst of great trial, suffering, and adversity. In verse 19, he declares that he will rejoice in the prayers of the church and the spiritual enablement and deliverance he will experience.
In verse 20, he states his hope and expectation that he will not be ashamed, but that Christ will be honored. Paul’s shame would be to falter, to give in, to despair. Whether he lives or dies, he desires that Christ be honored in his body “with full courage” in the midst of his circumstances, facing whatever God has in store for him.
In verse 21, he declares, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” And while verse 22 shows that he is conflicted about which outcome would be best, he acknowledges that if he is to live, it means fruitful labor.
Paul’s viewpoint takes real courage, but that courage is built on faith. It makes us both bolder and stronger. It means that no matter what our circumstances, we are to press on. We are to persevere. We are to stand firm. We are to continue to strive to serve Christ with our whole being.
Too often, when we think of courage, we think of heroic acts, dramatic outcomes, and historical figures who are larger than life. But the reality is that we are all called to live every day courageously, holding firm to the gospel, and walking in a manner worthy of it.
It is the kind of quiet courage that Paul exhibits and desires to see in other Christians that makes all the difference. It is remembering that we are the beneficiaries of Christ’s sacrifice, bought with a price, in the midst of the challenges, suffering, and adversity of everyday life. Gospel-worthy courage is to mark our lives every day.
Below is a prayer that I have found very inspiring and powerful in my own life:
Almighty God, send us out into life, not for cheap things and not for self, but to do battle for Thy purposes. We have not been trained for beds of ease. At times, we dare to ask that Thou wilt send us to where the struggle is the hardest. We ask Thee not for easier tasks, but for strength equal to our tasks. We ask not to be left apart with smooth lives dead at heart. Make real to us, O God, the nobility of work, that we might accept its disciplines as the price which leads in the end to the joy of creation through Christ. Amen. – Dr. Todd Williams is the President of Cairn University and was our Week 1 speaker this summer at America’s Keswick. You can watch his messages at www.americaskeswick.org.
Think About This: Today, God gives each of us a choice as we face life’s challenges. We can deliberately choose to follow him and rest in His truth and promises or we can choose to surrender our minds to pointless worry and the resulting stress that worry brings. Joshua 24:15
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8