Bitterness Wins No One
Updated: May 16, 2021
Saturday - May 15th
Scripture to Read Today: Philippians 2:12-18
Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
so that you may become blameless and pure,
"children of God without fault in
a warped and crooked generation."
The Book of Philippians brims over with favorite and often quoted passages. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (1:4), "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (1:6), "To live is Christ and to die is gain" (1:21), and "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (4:13) are just a few.
The picture Paul paints of Christ as a humble servant serves as the core of Paul's teaching in this letter (2:5–11). This central passage in chapter two stands out as one of the most distinct Christological portions of all Scripture. It is beautiful.
Paul's joy overflows as he thinks of the Philippian church. He wanted that same joy for them. To have them experience the same joy he had, Paul took the believers at Philippi directly to Jesus. A community of believers could live in harmonious unity and deep joy only through mutual modeling of the sacrifice, love, and purity of Christ.
Paul wrote in chapter two that he poured out his life as an offering for the sake of Christ. He claimed that this willingness to give himself in life and in death to Christ caused him to find great joy and contentment in Christ's service. Paul encouraged them to center their lives on Christ too. He told them that if they did, they too would live in true joy.
Pastor (and author) Chuck Swindoll summarizes our human quest for joy in a simple way: "Though we all have much to be thankful for, the pace and the pressure of life often squeeze the joy from us. Our shoulders slumped, and our heads bowed; we find some days—or months—very difficult to get through. Desperate, we often search for joy in all kinds of ways—acquiring possessions, visiting places, or seeing people. But none of these can provide lasting joy. Where do you find joy in the midst of a trying circumstance?"
Swindoll answers the profound question of where we find joy in the middle of challenging circumstances: "Paul knew, as did the Philippians, that true joy comes only through humble faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ, joining ourselves in harmony with His followers, and serving others in the name of Christ. This was the life experienced by the Philippian believers, and it is a life available to us today."
Philippians 2:14-15 describes how much joy, or at least freedom from grumbling and arguing, affects our witness to a lost and dying world. "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.'" Even from his prison cell in Rome, the Apostle Paul wanted believers not imprisoned for preaching the Gospel to understand the importance of joy. It is not just for our contentment. It is for our witness in this world. Bitterness wins no one. Who wants to join the ranks of a complaining, grumbling, arguing group of people? No one. But genuine joy in the life of the child of God is infectious!
Allow the joy you discover in Christ to keep you from useless quarrels and divisions. Instead, let it guide you into harmonious relationships with God's people.
God will use our joy together to attract others to Himself! The world that drifts deeper into sin needs our joy!