DAY 2 | PHILIPPIANS 1:3-8
Hi all, it’s a HUGE milestone today for 30 Days Through Philippians. This is day three, which means we are officially 10% of the way through our journey. WOW I can’t believe we made it this far.
This morning, you might think my cup o’ joe is nothing special…
…but YOU’D BE WRONG. This is easily a top three mug for me. It’s HANDMADE, homies, by the good folks over at Crail Pottery. Crail is a wee fishing village on the east coast of Scotland, known the world over—or at least the like south-eastern part of Scotland—for its fine pottery. This mug has it all: it looks great, great hand feel, keeps the heat in, good for sipping. 5 out of 5 stars.
Today, we’re going to let the Apostle Paul pray for us:
“And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11; NRSV).
If you’re ever at a loss for what to pray over someone, just pray this. Let’s break this down piece by piece.
“This is my prayer,” — whose prayer? Paul’s prayer.
“That your love” — whose love? In the context, the saints at Philippi. But recall what we learned on day one: we are “in Christ” just like the Philippians are. Paul’s prayer can be just as much for us today as it was for them then.
“Your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight” — Many people see a division between love and knowledge, or love and truth, but this division is artificial. Paul himself warns against knowledge without love (see 1 Corinthians 8:1), but love—Paul says here—should overflow with knowledge and full insight (or understanding).
This doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert. But it does mean knowledge and love aren’t mutually exclusive and, more pressingly, they might be related. One Biblical commentator went so far as to say that we should strive for a certain kind of knowledge: “knowledge that cultivates love” because “knowledge is the way of love.”
“To help you determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless,” — Notice that knowledge and understanding, which flow from love, are not for their own sakes. They help shape us and make us “pure and blameless.” This is not just an empty pursuit of virtue. Remember, Paul has already told us that it is God who works in us and will carry his work to completion. That work, simply put, will make us pure and blameless.
For the second time in a few short verses (the other is v. 6), Paul references the “day of Christ.” Presumably, he has in mind the return of Christ. In doing this, he emphasizes a final consummation when King Jesus will return and make everything right—including our hearts.
“having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God” — I love the phrase “harvest of righteousness.” Paul has been really clear, here. Perfection is not an overnight thing. It is true that you will hear stories of dramatic conversions where people give up addictions overnight, but this is not perfection. Even so, most of our stories aren’t so dramatic. Paul reminds us that our growth in God is a process, and it will continue to be a process until Christ returns and reaps in the “harvest.”
The harvest is such a great metaphor because of how much work goes into any harvest. Ask any farmer—a harvest takes a lot of tedious work. There’s planting and sowing and watering and caring for your crop in any number of ways, without which the crop would die. The result of all this work, however, is a plenteous harvest. The harvest for us, that comes through Jesus Christ, is not crops, but righteousness.
Pray now for Christ to be formed in you.
Lord Jesus, Master Carpenter of Nazareth, on the Cross through wood and nails you wrought our full salvation: Wield well your tools in this, your workshop, that we who come to you rough-hewn may be fashioned into a truer beauty by your hand; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, world without end. Amen. (BCP 2019)
After his prayer, Paul continues on,
“I want you to know, beloved that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; 14 and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14; NRSV)
Paul addresses his imprisonment head on, and what does he say?
“My imprisonment is for Christ.”
There is a lot that can be learned from Paul, but surely this is high on the list. Paul’s imprisonment—which must have been a difficult time for him, a time of hardship—becomes a way for Christ to be glorified.
As I write, a global pandemic is happening. This is a time of hardship. But pandemic or not, we all go through difficult times. Paul recognized that how we see times of hardship is important. Jesus Christ should be the lens by which we look at the world, even the difficult things that happen to us.
As an exercise, grab a paper and pen and take a minute to write down hardships in your life. Okay, okay, you probably aren’t imprisoned like Paul, but there are still things—no matter how small—which make life more difficult to live. On your paper, write our “My ________ is for Christ” as many times as you’d like. And after writing that, think about how Christ can or is glorified in that situation.