READING: Philippians 1:12-21 & 2:19-30
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage…” Do you think of Paul as someone who saw the proverbial silver lining in life’s cloudy days? His partners’ participation in many ways filled the voids created by the fear and confusion he must have felt as a helpless political prisoner in the hands of the Empire. What is your response to undeserved or unexpected “political” headwinds at work or even at home? Are courage and hope your expectations?
“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon…” Did you ever think of the apostle Paul as having heroes? The people he mentions here are amazing examples of faithful service. Paul starts with the example of the mindset of Christ Jesus, then he describes the loyalty of Timothy, then the resilience of Epaphroditus. Later, he mentions Philippi’s own Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement. Never underestimate the significance of your devoted service to others. Often, people say, “I serve because it makes me feel like I make a difference and have purpose.” According to this entire section, those heroes who set examples of service for us were motivated by how it impacted others, not by how it made them feel!
What does that have to do with Advent? In this season of the year, many misunderstand HOPE as cheery anticipation that the meals, gifts, and parties will result in their own happiness. We can learn from Paul and his partners that true HOPE has assurance that their actions bless others first. Express mature HOPE as you await Jesus’ Second Advent!
Mark Hill, pastor