Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his series on "Spiritual Growth: What it is, how it happens, & why it works" looking at the latter half of Philippians 1, verses 12 through 30.
First, he unpacked the text using three questions:
How does Paul evaluate his circumstances?
Then, as now, the main reason to write letters was to tell about your circumstances. The Philippians were concerned, because they'd heard Paul was in prison.
Paul doesn't say a thing about prison conditions, his health, or food. He tells them that his imprisonment has actually served to advance the gospel. Built into the Greek word for "advance" is the idea of overcoming obstacles.
The ultimate critieria by which Paul measures his circumstances is whether or not they contribute to the advancement of the gospel.
How did Paul evaluate the ministry of others?
He admits that some were preaching out of envious motives. They thought their ministry was clearly better than Paul's because he was in prison and they weren't. Today in America, many fall into the idea that God is only about blessing us, and you can judge your spirituality by how healthy, wealthy, and successful you are. By this standard, Paul - and Jesus - were failures.
Paul's focus was: Is Jesus Christ being glorified?
Is Jesus Christ made attractive because of the way you're living?
How did Paul view his future?
He was convinced he'd be delivered - either through death or for further fruitful ministry. He was utterly free of the fear of death because of his complete focus on Christ. He honestly saw both alternatives as deliverance.
Three Critical Parts of Paul's Faith:
Paul's Settled Conviction: God is sovereign.
This ties back to verse 6 - God is working in our lives. Paul talks about God working in all his life's circumstances.
Paul's Driving Concern: The glory of Christ.
If God would be glorified, that makes it good - even if it's uncomfortable for Paul at the moment.
That settled conviction and driving concern combine into:
Paul's Freeing Point of View: ALL circumstances can be received as a gift from God.
What does this mean for me? (verses 27-30)
Our settled conviction, driving concern, and freeing point of view can be the same as Paul's.
Be just like Paul in these attitudes! You won't be thrown off kilter by difficulty.
Seeing every circumstance as a gift from God is the result of spiritual growth.
God is working even in this - in fact, He's working precisely in this.
Every circumstance is a gift from God.