"...Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to the Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5: (ESV)
If you've been a Christian for very long, you are well aquainted with Philippians 1:6, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ." (ESV) It's a verse I've heard all my life and yet I'm not sure I've ever heard it preached in context - that or I simply wasn't paying attention.
God touched my heart this morning with a different view of it than I've ever had before. In starting with verse one, I read as though I were reading any other book. Too often we read the Bible as though it were a textbook in which we scan through to find the correct answer to an assigned question, or in search of an answer to a question that's bugging us. We've become uncomfortable with something and we seek an answer in God's word that will restore our comfort. Our intentions are selfish more often than not because we want to read what we want to hear. But, this morning I read Philippians (1&2) with no hampering mental stigmatism.
Paul starts the chapter by greeting the believers at Philippi. The words he uses to greet these believers are very touching. He has an obvious affection and appreciation for these people. He tells them how he thanks God for them and prays for them with joy. Then, he goes on to explain the reason for this depth of love for them. It is because they have been faithful in and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ - not just in the beginning when they were new Christians, but from the beginning until the present time in which he is writing the letter. It is after pronouncing thanks for this steadfast faith that he says:
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ." (ESV)
This really struck a cord with me. How many times do we get derailed in our walk with the Lord? How easily distracted do we become? Do we have the same fervor the Philippian Christians had? Or do we take God for granted, expecting Him to take care of us and keep us comfortable in this life only to rail at Him when things don't go the way we want?
We often forget that Jesus has called us to take up our cross and follow Him. We forget that the purpose of this life is to spread the Gospel of Christ as well as to shape us and mold us into His image. A very dear and wise woman once reminded me during my college years when I was searching to "find myself" that my search was misdirected. She reminded me that I need to seek to be like Christ, not seek to be me. I don't need to know who I am other than to make sure I am a daughter of God, committed to loving and following Him with all my heart.
As if to confirm this, Paul says in verse 7 and following that it's right for him to feel this way about them (that God will finish the good work He started in them), because they take part in defending and confirming the Gospel of Jesus Christ even in the face of his imprisonment.
Would our pastors be able to say of us that they thank God for us because we are dedicated to following Christ everyday of our lives no matter what the cost? Do they find encouragement in ministering to us because of our faithfulness or do they grieve over us because for the most part we could care less?
I admit that I have not been the encouragement I need to be - not to my pastor, not to my family, nor to my church. How I pray that will change! For I want others to be able to say of me that "...he who began a good work will bring it to completion..."