Paul is encouraging his readers today to continue growing in the Lord. They are to be a light to the lost world.
The Philippian church has been very faithful all along. Paul is not writing a letter of reprimand but one of encouragement. They are known for their obedience to the word and Paul’s teaching. He asks them to continue this practice and even step it up a bit. He is proud of them and their faith even in his absence.
This reminds me of a story. When my children were young I didn’t allow them to chew gum. The reason for this was that I didn’t want to have to try and get it out of their hair or clothes or the carpet or wherever their inattention might let it wander to. One day as they were coming out of Children’s Church I heard them refusing an offer of gum. They said their mom wouldn’t let them have gum. I was so proud of them for maintaining my rules even in my absence. I found out later that all the children were offered gum regularly but none of mine ever accepted the offer. My pride in my children was immense but I bet it paled compared to Paul’s pride in this group of believers.
I’m not sure if the section on doing things without grumbling or disputing was a corrective direction. I know I need that correction at times. Maybe they did too. Just a gentle reminder. By doing this they stood out among their contemporaries and especially differentiated themselves from non-believers. This was how they would shine.
Obedience to God’s word was not how they were being saved though. Paul was encouraging them to go deeper in their relationship with God, not earn their salvation. Because of their love for God and allowing Him to work in their lives, HE would put the desire in their hearts to follow Him with their works; more every day.
Paul ends this thought with his pride in them. He is convinced of their sincerity but wants to bring it back home to them once again. He has worked hard in his ministry and is in chains for it at this point. Who wouldn’t hope and pray that all they worked for wasn’t in vain or wasted? He wants to hear “Well done my good and faithful servant” as much as we do. He also wants them to desire that same greeting. He will gladly suffer whatever it costs him here on earth for that moment in Heaven.
Father God, thank You for putting the desire to do good in my heart and increasing it more every day. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Or in other words, obedience is better than repentance. That goes completely against the view of “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” It may be “easier” but it’s NOT what You desire. I want my life to reflect You light every day. I know I fall short of that goal but because of Your work in me I’m making progress in that area too. Thank You for drawing me to You. I’m praying I hear those words when I stand before You. I pray my walk and talk make a positive difference in someone else coming to You. Please protect others from my influence when I’m not demonstrating Your love.