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Yesterday, we looked at Philippians 1 and how Paul used his time of isolation to “advance the gospel.” One of the ways we can use our own time of relative isolation to do this is by following Paul’s commands in today’s Scripture reading to “value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
It’s easy to pay lip-service to this ideal when the world is relatively healthy physically and economically. It’s an entirely other thing to live out expressions of the gospel in times like the moment we’re living in today.
How practically can we value others above ourselves during this time? The answer to that question will of course look different for each of us based on our vocational roles and financial situations. But here are a few ideas.
Stay at home. Most of us are under orders or strong advisement from government authorities to self-distance from others. “Value others above yourselves” by following these directives, volunteering to sacrifice some personal freedoms for the well-being of your neighbors.
Volunteer to take a pay-cut in order to save the jobs of others. Very few people can afford to do this, but the ones that do have the privilege of preaching the gospel through dramatic action.
Give more generously than usual. Last week, I spoke with a friend who runs a digital marketing agency. While his business has not been hit hard yet by the current crisis, he has reason to believe it could be. But after a lot of prayer, he decided to step out in faith and pay the rent of his favorite local coffee shop that was tinkering on bankruptcy. Actions like these may look foolish to some, but to those coffee shop owners, it looks like the gospel in action.
What I’m suggesting here is hard. But you know what was unfathomably harder? Paying for the penalty of our sins. We are called to model the self-sacrificial life of Jesus. Let us all look for creative ways to model his gospel as we work through this crisis.
Philippians 2:1-30 (ESV) -
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Lights in the World
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
Timothy and Epaphroditus
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.