Lent Devotional in Philippians
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
The honeymoon period has come to end in Philippi, opposition and suffering isn't something they once talked about but it's now arrived (Phil 1:27-30). Lives are in real danger and they need to consider the safety of the fellowship.
Paul has heard about their situation and he now offers some timely advice. This advice is priceless because it doesn't come from an ivory tower but from someone who has and is still experiencing opposition and suffering.
Paul's words are like a halftime team talk when everyone is dreading the thought of going back to the streets to lose the fight miserably. Paul’s talk doesn't pander to the individual but to the well being of everyone. There's no ‘I’ in this team talk.
“Encouragement, comfort, tenderness and compassion.”
Success will depend on how each individual nurtures these traits for the benefit of the wider team. The human tendency is to try and generate these kinds of traits from our inner resolve but we know that these tend to lack substance and longevity.
Here’s the game changer! The kind of traits Paul wants the fellowship to have are nurtured in their relationship with Jesus (Phil 2:1). The amount of time and effort we invest in this relationship will determine what we can offer and give to the fellowship.
As with any crisis (the current global pandemic), our response to the crisis exposes how much time and effort we've invested into our relationship with Jesus. Here's how we know if we've invested well, what kind of traits is the current crisis producing? The priority for all of us is to continue to nurture our relationship with Jesus because this is the training ground that produces like-minded individuals for the real game!
Lord Jesus, we pray our eyes would see the reality that the most important relationship we have is with you and out of this union we would become more like you. Amen
Written by Stephen James, Director of Prison Ministry
Stephen joined the team to help develop our courses for prisons, after spending time in prison himself. Stephen and his family currently live in Swansea, Wales. Read his story.
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