Daily Reflections March 29, 2017
As we study this book, it is helpful to remind ourselves that proverbs are not promises. They are principles that generally prove to be true, but from time to time the general rule is broken. For instance, I intend to teach my children that students who do their homework earn better marks on their tests. However, there is no doubt in my mind that my kids will encounter one or two students who are both lazy and remarkably gifted, and those students will frequently outperform the rest. The principle that greater diligence leads to greater success is still true, but some exceptions exist.
Consider Proverbs 16:7:
“When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7 ESV)
This proverb seems to clearly stand at odds with what Jesus promised his church when he said,
“And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:13 ESV)
Which is it? Will living for the praise and glory of God bring about peace or hatred from the world? The biblical answer appears to be “both”. Our righteous living will generally lead to peace, but our commitment to Jesus Christ will lead to persecution. Jesus has guaranteed this. By aligning ourselves with him, we invite upon ourselves the same scorn, the same hatred and the same fate that he experienced.
“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20a ESV)
What then of the proverb? We see the truth of this general principle when we consider Jesus’ life. Yes, he was persecuted, but he was also respected and admired by many. Even though they did not all come to believe in him so as to be saved, there were many large crowds that followed Jesus and listened to his teaching.
A life of obedience and submission to God’s way is intriguing to the world, and as a general rule it ought to bring about peace. It should be rare for a Christian to be involved in workplace drama and gossip. It should be uncommon for Christians to have petty disputes with their neighbours over lawn care and fence lines. It should be hard for enemies to hurl accusations at Christians because believers ought to live so far above reproach that allegations are clearly seen to be unfounded. To live life in obedience to God is to live as a peacemaker.
How should we live in light of these two truths? Expect a favourable response from the world as you live a life of radical forgiveness and unconditional love, but don’t be surprised when the crowds turn on you for your allegiance to Christ. And on the day that the crowds turn against you remember that peace with men is good, but peace with God is infinitely better.
Pastor Levi denBok
In chapter 2 we saw the need for believers to have the same mindset as Jesus Christ (2:5). He came as a servant in great humility to lift us up from our brokenness and cleanse us from our filth.
Jesus has taken hold of us. He has shown the unworthy his amazing grace! This defines our way of life. We now have a race to run and a prize to win. Here, Paul teaches us how to live this heavenward life and win this prize by focusing on what matters most.
Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. (Philippians 3:15-17 ESV)
In our quest for spiritual maturity, we need mentors and godly teachers. We need those whose lives inspire us to a greater zeal and greater depths in communion with God. Paul calls the Philippians to imitate him. To be around Paul and sit under his teaching would have been incredible. He was filled with joy and wanted the believers to understand who they are in Christ, and along with him to rejoice!
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. (Philippians 3:1 ESV)
Beyond the difficulties of the daily grind, we are reminded that we are chosen by God, citizens of heaven, and are heading for eternal communion with Jesus. With this heavenly perspective, we have every reason to rejoice in the Lord!
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21 ESV)
Like a good teacher, Paul warned the believers to be on their guard against those whose lives and teaching would turn them away from Christ. These enemies of the cross have their minds set on lesser things, things of the world and of the flesh.
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. (Philippians 3:2 ESV)
Christian, we have great confidence before God, but it is not in our works. It’s not about our effort or earning, but solely about Jesus’s finished work on the cross. In Christ, for us, are unsearchable gospel riches. This is the basis both for our salvation and our living. Along with Paul we strive to live for Christ, not to earn salvation, but as a response to salvation.
For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3 ESV)
So what should be our consuming passion for the rest of our days? Let’s follow Paul’s example and pray to know the Lord better and more intimately. Let’s press on to pursue Christ and the riches of his gospel. This one thing, more than anything, affects everything else.
…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11 ESV)
Associate Pastor Jody Cross