Philippians 1:27-30 ESV
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
Trials Which Test our Faith
The apostle Paul was experiencing great persecution. And he was in prison for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. But his attitude about the whole matter was to see how God was using it to advance the gospel, and how it was encouraging many other Christians to be more bold to speak the word of God without fear. So, God was bringing good out of a situation that, on a surface level, appeared bad.
Now my husband and I are presently going through a trial, but not in the area of religious persecution. Our present trial has to do with our apartment (where we live) being partially flooded two days ago, and we are still in the process of cleaning up the mess and getting things somewhat back to normal. Since I am somewhat handicapped (peripheral neuropathy in one leg), this presents a challenge to me physically, so it is slow going for me.
Now I know that our trial pales by comparison to what Paul was suffering or to what many Christians and non-Christians are suffering throughout the world, but a trial is still a trial regardless of the severity of it. And it could have been much worse. For when all that water was pouring into our apartment faster than we could get rid of it, I was wondering if we were going to lose everything and be homeless. That did not happen.
So, I have much to be thankful for. And I look at each trial as something that I am to learn and grow from in my walk of faith in the Lord Jesus. For through each trial he does strengthen me in my faith and he does teach me lessons he wants me to learn, and so good does come out of each trial. And I never know how God might use what I am going through to encourage others who are going through trials, too.
[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; Jn 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]
Our Manner of Life
Now, as we go through the trials of life – which should include suffering persecution for the sake of the gospel, if we are followers of Christ who are sharing the truth of the gospel with others – we should not let those trials undo us. We should not let them get the best of us. But we must rise above them, trusting the Lord Jesus that he allowed them in our lives for a purpose and that he will accomplish his purpose in our lives through them.
And as one who daily shares the truth of the gospel on the internet, and who refutes the lies of Satan, by the grace of God, and in His strength, I am not unfamiliar with suffering for the sake of the gospel. I know what it is like to be opposed, to be persecuted, to have all manner of evil spoken against me, to be falsely accused of wrongdoing, and to be despised and rejected even by others who claim to believe in Jesus Christ, too.
But how we respond to those trials speaks volumes of our own character and of the strength of our faith in Jesus Christ. And I am certainly not saying that we can’t cry. We can. I am not saying that we should not feel the hurt. If we are loving and compassionate people, we will feel the hurt. And I am not saying we have to be super people who do not tire physically, mentally, and emotionally. We are human. So we have human limitations.
But what I am saying is that we cannot let these trials undo us or destroy our faith, for our faith should not be based on life always treating us well. If our faith is strong it should endure the good times and the bad times, and the bad times should be used to just make us stronger, not weaker. And we have to always keep our focus on the Lord and his sovereignty over our lives, knowing that God is working all this for good in our lives.
So, we are to let our manner of life, which includes our responses to our trials, to be worthy (suited, fitting) of the gospel of Christ. And that gospel teaches us that we are to be crucified with Christ in death to sin and raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. So, we die to sin, not just once, but daily, and we now walk in obedience to our Lord in holiness and in righteousness.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
He Keeps Me Singing
by Luther B. Bridgers, 1910
There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
“Fear not, I am with thee, peace be still,”
In all of life’s ebb and flow.
All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
Discord filled my heart with pain;
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirred the slumbering chords again.
Feasting on the riches of His grace,
Resting ‘neath His sheltering wing,
Always looking on His smiling face –
That is why I shout and sing.
Though sometimes He leads through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep
See His foot-prints all the way.
Soon He’s coming back to welcome me
Far beyond the starry sky;
I shall wing my flight to world’s unknown,
I shall reign with Him on high.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus –
Sweetest name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.
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