November 8, 2012

Abide to Witness


How can we see and develop the characteristics of believers as seen in the book of Philippians? As Paul was suffering in prison, we see in him some of these characteristics which are the fruit of abiding in Jesus Christ.

Believers today can know and be encouraged that no matter what happens to them, they have a choice as to what happens in them. When we respond to our circumstances (rather than react), a powerful witness (fruit) for Christ is seen and heard. We are to abide in Christ and, like Paul, the fruit of the Holy Spirit will be seen in what we say, write and do regardless of our circumstances.

Paul opens his letter with thanksgiving to God for the prayers and support of the Philippian Christians. He prays a far-reaching prayer for them that we also can pray for others (Philippians 1:9-11). He then describes how God was answering their prayers for him by working in the lives of "the whole palace guard" and how the gospel was spreading because many had become confident in witnessing without fear (Philippians 1:12-14).

The point is this: Paul believed God was at work in all the things that had happened to him (Romans 8:28), which produced in him confidence, boldness and assurance that spread to others around him. Praying (Philippians 1:1-11) for others, no matter what your own circumstances are (1:3-4, 9-11) and sharing needs with others so they can pray for you with thanksgiving is the key to being able to see what God is doing. Confidence is the result which can then be shared with others (fruit is not for the tree, it is for others).

In verses 15 through 18, Paul reveals he knew of some preachers who were envious, angry, contentious and greedy. Unfortunately, they are still with us today. But Paul did not worry, fear or doubt when he learned of such people (although the temptation is strong to end up adopting a trait we start out abhorring).

Evil is a Deceptive Trap

Instead, he rejoiced in the fact that the message of Christ is more powerful than the messenger of Christ. His confidence was in Christ and in the gospel of Christ, not in methods or motives of sharing Christ.

Paul then states he is confident of what will happen in the future, because of what God has promised to do in him in the future, which is to magnify Christ (Philippians 1:19-20). We can have that same confidence if we will learn what Paul learned and know what he knew, namely, that God is at work in our lives bearing the Christ-honoring fruit of the Spirit for all the world to come and feast upon. And that no matter what happens to us, we can choose, by abiding in Christ, to allow God to do a mighty work in us, which will be a witness to the world around us of the reality and power of Christ.

Bible Study: Philippians 1:12-30

CC Image • Bleiglasfenster im Friedhof Montparnasse in Paris, Darstellung: Jesus umgeben von Kindern

Originally Published: November 8, 2012
Category: Bible Study
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