This summer I spent a lot of time in Philippians chapter 2. I think God was trying to tell me something. It started in May.
In Sunday school, before summer camp started, we studied Philippians 2:1-5, 12-18. This is what the Scripture passage says (ESV).
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a]
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but 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 work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”
When I first got to camp, I shared this passage with my co-workers wanting to encourage all of us to work as a team. Little did I know that this would be our Thursday Scripture every week of the summer. Each week something different stood out to me, or caught my attention. I don’t remember all of it because I didn’t write it down, but I remember some and wanted to share about my summer at Asbury Hills.
complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Thinking alike, but not in a bandwagon way. We are to have the mind of Christ, love the way God loves, and work together in unity. Machines, offices, teams, etc. all work better when the members are ‘on the same page.’ Differences cause rifts, hurt feelings, and many other types of trouble. When we are working together, as Christians working together in Christ, everything runs more smoothly.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Selfish ambition and conceit both signify one of the seven deadly sins…pride. It means that you’re “looking out for #1”, that you think about yourself and what you want to do more than about others. It’s all about “me, myself, and I.” Pride says that ‘I am more important than anyone, (in extreme cases – even God).’ Paul tells us here to be humble. That we should think of others more than we think of ourselves. It doesn’t mean that we should stop taking care of ourselves, but we should not be so focused on ourselves that we don’t notice what others are going through. We need to look at everyone through God’s eyes.
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. In other words, this journey with God, our salvation walk, is not going to be a nice little walk in the park. It’s going to be a rough road at times. There will most likely be cause for fear and trembling. But it’s okay! God is the one who is working in us. He will lead you through the hard times and the good times. We have no promise that being a Christian will be easy, but we have the promise that God is with us. For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints (Psalm 37:28). When we let Him, God works His will in our lives. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 He is there when we look for Him. His plans are good, all we have to do is believe that and trust Him in all things. But we have to remember, He is God and He will do what He wills. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Isaiah 42:8
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, Now there’s a tough one! ALL THINGS without grumbling, complaining, whining, arguing, fussing, objections…well, I think you get the picture. All things, without any of that. That’s one to think on…I know I complain about quite a bit. Homework, teachers, people I know, food, chores, social time or lack thereof, work, and the list goes on. I wonder if my list of complaints is shorter or longer than my list of things I’m grateful for. What about yours?
Why are we supposed to do all things without complaining? that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, So we can be pure.. God washes us clean, but we have to do our part in doing His will. Sharing the Gospel, sharing His message of love. Doing things without complaint makes you stand out, in a good way. In the midst of everyone’s arguing, complaining, disputes, and hateful words…it’s a breath of fresh air. A light shining in the darkness. That’s what we are to be. But we can’t do that if we’re acting as the world acts.
Soo…how do we do all of this? By holding fast to the word of life! The word of life is Jesus. Jesus said I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. We can’t do any of it on our own. Sure, I can try to do everything without complaining, to be a light in the world, to put others before myself. But I will fail in my own power. I need to let God work in me and focus on Him and His Word if I want to do His will.
This summer was a challenge, I will readily admit. But it opened my eyes to the things I complain and grouse about. It showed me where I’ve been putting myself first, where I’d decided I was more important than God. Spending weeks on a passage of Scripture may seem repetitive and boring, but I promise you that if you do it with an open mind, a willingness to learn, and a lot of trust, God will show you things you didn’t realize about yourself.