Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.
This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.. – Philippians 1:27-30
What defines someone as worthy? Normally we define someone as worthy if they have previously shown or while fulfilling a current role they display excellence. The theme of worthiness seems to go past even the idea of reaching a mark, someone who is worthy excels and surpasses general expectations.
For athletes the question is whether or not they are worthy to play. Are you capable, are you excellent, can you help the team win. In professional athletics after an athlete retirement the question raised is if they are worthy to receive honors like the hall of fame, a retired jersey, or even a statue at their stadium.
I’ve been told in our rural community there is even a certificate sought after for who produces the best yields on their seed corn. The competition is set, the expectations are put forth.
At businesses a hire or retained employee is determined worthy of their job and subsequent raises or promotions based on whether or not they are worthy. You do not hire a recent high school graduate with a low GPA and testing scores to be a surgeon in a respected hospital. You do not keep the employee that does not fulfil their job parameters or meet a semblance of the expectations.
Yet, as we measure what it means to be worthy we are asked to measure up to, to be worthy of, the call of Christ. And so, we must look inwardly at ourselves. We must turn our perspective of worthiness upon the King of kings and ask what it means to honor the Lord with our lives.
How you walk worthy of the Gospel is determined by what worth you put in the Gospel. But, the expectations and worth of the Gospel is not determined by you at all. The Gospel is the greatest and most imaginative moment in all of history. The Gospel, can be argued, is the purpose of the creation itself. God displaying that what was once contrary to Him can be transformed into the likeness of Him.
And, in the letter of Philippians you cannot presume to get away from the word Gospel let alone the idea of it. The overwhelming self-sacrificing excited yet intentionality in which Paul expresses the Gospel is fantastic. It is a constant reminder that the Gospel is for anyone willing to give themselves to the grace of God.
Walking Worthy of the Gospel is Immeasurably Important in all Circumstances.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Now if the reward you have is Christ through His death on the cross which is so fantastic you can only imagine its splendor, than living up to the worthiness might be a little difficult. But, this text is not about being worthy. This text refers us to conduct ourselves in all circumstances as if we were.
Living in a way that is worthy of what honor or prestige you have was not something foreign to the Philippians. As we have stated before the Philippians were held in great honor because their city was a Roman Colony a little Roman. The people who resided there were given great honor and privilege. The Philippians new how to take pride in what they were.
They were a wealthy city. Having been bestowed a great honor as a Roman colony, a place for Roman citizens, another honor not given to everyone but earned or bestowed upon. They were privileged, but with the privilege and honor given them there were great expectations and inescapable obligations.
Roman citizenship was not given to everyone in the empire. It was not even given to everyone born in Rome or a Roman Colony. Being Roman was a big deal. It was something you had to live up to. It was something you did not frivolously waste or toss aside.
And, similarly the Philippians were being challenged to conduct themselves worthy of the Gospel. Conducting yourself as worthy of the Gospel is a greater call, a greater challenge than being Roman.
Paul charges the Philippians and all believers to be like himself, willing to lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel, seen in his chains and potential death (Philippians 1:7). We have been shown that the Gospel is greater than us or our relationships with others, that the Gospel being proclaimed should cause us the greatest joy, even when it is done to defame or attack us.
And now, Paul unequivocally calls the believers to live it. It is one thing to lay down your life, it is another to make peace with others because you agree and have a common goal. It is another thing all together to be given the great charge that your whole life is to be centered around one singular goal. Are you worthy of the Gospel of Christ?
Because the goal here is to give up your life for those who do not have the same goal in mind as you. The goal is to give up your life so that those who hate you might know about Jesus!
Decisively Striving Together For the Gospel is a Product of Walking Worthy.
Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.
Paul takes a measure of ownership for the churches and people He has shared the Gospel with. Paul treasured those whom he was used to share the Gospel with. Whether it was Timothy that caused him tears of joy or his frustration with the Corinthians whom frustrated him. The Galatians whom he was hurting for because they lost sight of the freedom found in Christ. The Thessalonians who were so engaged in the future in heaven that they failed for care for life now. Paul was intentionally and intimately engaged with those He shared the Gospel with.
So, when Paul speaks boldly to the church in Philippi about striving together for the sake of the Gospel no matter the barriers there it is out of love. He personally was invested in these real people, this real church amidst the chance of everyone losing their lives, homes, and all that worldly defined them.
Is it possible to not be frightened in any way by those around you? Is it possible to not be terrified by the life of brokenness for the sake of the name of Jesus? Think for a moment about the success of the early church. The Temple and the Jewish leaders who killed their messiah and aimed at wiping the followers of Jesus off the map.
They killed Jesus and then after the first Martyr Stephen had a taste for blood and sent out a young man Saul, who later wrote this letter as a Christ follower, to round up more Christians to be killed. Putting people to death was outside of their power yet it was a risk the first century Jerusalem Jewish leaders were willing to take.
Then as the Gospel expanded ever increasingly across Roman empire and abroad, the Christian’s were the newest blight on the Roman empire. People of different nationalities, geographic backgrounds, and family gods not only relinquishing their former deities or abandoning them, they opposed them as not gods at all, not even the Caesar was worshiped out of penalty of death.
Without being frightened by those who oppose you meant something much more significant. Be worthy of the Gospel that you speak of, that you boast in, and that you live out as you remember Paul’s chains. As you remember the death of Jesus on the Cross because of His kindness across a country, be fearless as you love others and speak about Him.
Paul has only set up the premise for how to live a life worthy of the Gospel so far, and the premise is staggering. The Gospel is both worth my life and my suffering, but how am I worth the gospel? How am I worthy of the Gospel?
I am not.
Yet whether those who have entrusted me with the truth are present or never see me again, I hope that they know that the name of Jesus is remarkable.
The Struggle is Real.
This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
The struggle on behalf of Christ is a privilege. It is something we can share in common with the God of the universe. God made flesh suffered. Our savior suffered and struggled through the mountain tops and valleys, through others disbelief, and betrayal from those closest to them.
That struggle, that sacrifice of life and personhood for the sake of the Gospel is the very thing that will display the truth of God to others. Your determination to give all you are, all you, your life for Christ is the picture of truth. Because if you are not willing to lay your life down for Christ than is Christ truly your life?
The letter to the Hebrews reminds us, it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. – Hebrew 2:10
And as Jesus details His need for suffering He reminds His disciples that the savior would need to suffer, He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24:25-27
There was no middle ground for the savior of the world, He had to suffer to give us new life, eternal life. He reminded His disciples that a servant is not greater than the master if they hated Him what would world do to them. It is still the same broken world.
And so this Gospel that we as believers live in is not exclusively something we go and share with others. The Gospel is the rich truth and grace that we abide in, that we as a church rest in. The great hope of eternity with God intertwined with the great truth of who He is produces confidence to endure and resilience to prevail through todays circumstances.
This hope and confidence in the Lord’s gracious Gospel produces in us the life of conduct that displays how to live worthy. Paul in His letter to the Philippians displays what it means to walk worthy till death. He starts emphatically with chains. To walk worthy of the Gospel is to be willing to walk in chains, imprisonment, and in utter failure according to the world’s standards for the name of Jesus.
To walk worthy of the Gospel to recognize that either in death or in life Jesus is more than us. Yet, both of these are tremendous weights. Neither are significantly understood to many of us in our culture. Jesus commands us to be able to hate our father and mother, our children in order to be His disciple. To lose those closest to us for the name of Jesus.
To give everything we have for the name of Jesus is the limit to which the Gospel is worth. To daily chose humiliation for the name of Jesus, like that of carrying a cross that which was to humiliate and kill.
Instead, to walk worthy we must count everyone else, even the worst of people, more significant than ourselves, with no exceptions. Just as God did in Christ.
To walk worthy means to not grumble, complain, or constantly question others and life, but rather to confidently with all assurance say, by the Lords will. And in doing so you will a light of the Gospel walking worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus. How often do the smallest inconveniences cause distraction, cause us to be frustrated, and for us to lose sight of the great cost of our lives that gives such joy.
Rejoice in the Lord. Do not be tempted to believe that anything you have, anything you have gained or done religiously, what life heritage you have means anything. Determine that it is nothing, for that is what it is to the Gospel and to walking worthy of the Gospel.
Our righteousness in Christ, our righteousness is Christ through faith and in Gospel alone. Nothing else saves, the Gospel alone. Nothing else is considered, save, the Gospel alone.
That is why we press on that is why we are broken. He is why we as a church give of our lives. He is our hope, our joy, our choice!
Those who are mature in faith will dispense of all that has been, could be in life, and strive and be broken for the upward call and hope of eternity with our Lord and savior!
As you linger on the Gospel, not simply the cost of the Gospel, the outcome of the Gospel you start to realize your lack. There is available to every scoundrel, ragamuffin, alcoholic, good, broken, despicable, God hating, malicious, back stabbing, incalculably horrible, kind, generous, and loving person something fantastic that costs them all the same, nothing. Yet, in costing us nothing we realize that the Gospel, the hope for others to be saved, is everything and worth our life’s sacrifice.
So, ask yourself this as you go through life this week, who is worth your life. Who is worth the sacrifice of your life for the Gospel? Is the name of Jesus worth your death? Truly ask yourself would you die for the name of Jesus?
If you are willing to die for the name of Jesus ask yourself do you sacrifice your life for the name of Jesus? For the grace He gave you and gives you is meant for more than you.
Questions to Consider
- What are different ways you can imitate Christ? (Ephesians 4:28-5:2, Philippians 1:29; John 13:1-17 & 15:18-21)
- What is the greatest moment, reward, or title you have worked to achieve?
- How should someone given the same reward or title without working for it respond?
- If you have been granted without any work the greatest title and reward, child of God and eternity with God, how can you live in such a way to show gratitude and appreciation for these gifts? (Colossians 1:9-14, Ephesians 4:1-6)
- What defines of a godly person? (Galatians 5:4-6, 13-15, 22-26; 1 Peter 1:6-8, 2:1; Colossians 3:1-17)
What does it look like to suffer for the name of Jesus? (1 Peter 3:8-4:1)