Encouragement in Philippians
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 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, 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.”Philippians 2: 14-16
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In Philippians 2, the apostle Paul writes to the church at Philippi about the state of their generation. The wickedness and sin of their time was in stark contrast to the behavior that he prescribed for the Christian people in this area. When Paul wrote these words to the Philippians, could he have imagined that people would still be reading those words and struggling with the same sins thousands of years later? Life for the Philippians can’t be too similar to life now, at least in regard to clothing, food, technology, resources, daily life, entertainment, and so on. Surely the turmoil and sin that assails our modern world is also very different from the time of the Philippians, right?
Yet Paul’s words to the church at Philippi still ring true for us, especially in verse 15. The phrase, “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation,” sounds all too fitting for us today. As optimistic as we’d like to be, the world has by no means straightened itself out since the time of the Philippians. We still live in an undoubtedly broken and sinful world. People still strive to worship anything but God. People of the world are still deceiving and being deceived, and ultimately running from the Lord. This is why Paul’s next words are so important. At the end of verse 15, he says, “Among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.”
Paul refers to the people of the church as lights in the world. Jesus Himself does the same thing in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:14). It was true then, and it’s true now; we are the light in this dark world. Jesus Christ has given us this gift as a way to proclaim the truth and call others to Himself. We have been given this vocation, but how do we shine as lights in the midst of this crooked generation?
The best way to answer this is to take a look at Jesus. After Jesus was baptized, He was taken to the wilderness for forty days and was tempted three times by the devil. Each time, He came back at the devil with the Word of God as His defense. The Word is our defense as well. The world may be dark and crooked. Its ways may be ever-changing, avoiding the Lord, and its wars and terror continue. Thanks be to God that He has chosen us as His people to proclaim the unchanging truth of His love. We hold fast to the Word of life, and in this way, we shine the light of Christ.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.