"Light in the Darkness" - Introduction to Philippians
This letter written by the apostle Paul to the Philippian church while imprisoned in Rome is a true treasure in the cannon of scripture.
While many of Paul’s letters contain a balance of theological content and practical exhortation this letter is simply a letter of thanks, encouragement and exhortation which encourages the church to focus our minds on living for God and to find our hope and joy in pursuing Him.
The letter neatly breaks down into four focus points within the four chapters, each having a key verse:
CHAPTER 1 Christ our LIFE
V21 “To me, to live is Christ”
CHAPTER 2 Christ our MIND
V5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”
CHAPTER 3 Christ our GOAL
V10 “That I may know Him”
CHAPTER 4 Christ our STRENGTH
V13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”
When we properly apply the lessons from this letter, I believe we will gain true perspective for the life we live and times we live in.
We can have light in our circumstances which may seem dark and discouraging.
We can be a light in a dark world.
Hence the title and focus for the series “Light in the Darkness”.
The introduction to Philippians from verses 1-11 shows us Paul’s own example of these lessons.
He begins in verse 1 with the mindset of a ‘bondservant’ of Jesus. He didn’t stamp his title of apostleship on this letter even though he had every right to. He simply demonstrated the mindset we are to have as followers of Jesus, something he wanted the church in Philippi to practice. This mindset is beautifully illustrated in chapter 2 when we look at the ‘mindset of Christ’.
We then notice that his very first expression of thought is thankfulness (verse 3) and his first expression of feeling is ‘joy’ (verse 4). This comes despite his own situation, and the uncertainty of his trial awaiting him. We will go on to see that Joy is a dominant theme in this letter with reference to the words joy or rejoicing some 19 times.
Ask yourself what your first thought and first attitude is towards your life situations. Would you respond the same way?
If not, then I would encourage you to dig deep into this letter and apply the principles found here to your life. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a healthy perspective and peace even through hard times.
Paul encouraged the church:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Php 4:4-5 (NKJV)
And it’s with that perspective “The Lord is at hand” that frames the context for our lives and what our focus is to be one.
The exhortation found in this letter is for us to be a light as this world becomes increasingly dark. As the time of the Lords return draws near.
Pauls desire for the church:
15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Php 2:15-16 (NKJV)