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"Living by Example" from study of Philippians 2:12-16

Chapter 2 of Philippians is a chapter of Examples:

· 2:5-11 Jesus

· 2:17-18 Paul himself

· 2:19-24 Timothy

· 2:25-30 Epaphroditus

These are lives we can take lessons from. Lives that show the character that God wants of His people. This is made clear in chapter 3:17:

“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” (Php 3:17, NKJV)

So, we should take lessons from the character of these faithful servants who are patterns for us. The emphasis of their character or mindset is set forth for us in the opening verses, verses 1-4.

Paul emphasizes a life showing love and unity, with humbleness and servant like qualities. This idea is carried through to verses 14 and 15 which echoes the importance of unity, stressing that we need to do all things without complaining and disputing but instead should be blameless and harmless. Noticeably we then get to the key reason, expressed in verse 15:

Php 2:15 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

I see this as the primary exhortation in Philippians. This gives us God’s mandate for the church. Paul describes the backdrop of what we are living in as ‘children of God’, and that backdrop is a dark place, a crooked and perverse generation. But, the exhortation is that we don’t retreat from this world, but that we shine in it. The way we live our lives has a lot to do with how we shine and give witness to Jesus in our lives. We are God’s lighthouses, indicating the way to safety.

And it’s interesting, the closer we get to the Lord’s return, we are told the darker it is going to get. 2 Timothy 3 gives a description of these times and the degradation of society and it’s not hard to see these things ringing true in our time.

We are witnessing obvious agendas coming through media specifically targeting our kids. We are seeing current celebrations around pride month like we have never seen before. We are seeing Christian character schools like Bethlehem College scorned for holding a high view of marriage and that it is between a man and a woman. The use of pronouns like “he, she, hers, his” etc. is now being frowned upon in our school systems. Gender conversion decisions are now accepted at a young age with the possibility of no parental knowledge or involvement.

In light of all this there is a sense in verse 12-13 that Paul wanted all believers to consider their direction, priorities, and God’s will for their lives. Something else that stands out in this section, in verse 16 is the instruction: “holding fast the word of life”.

Departure from the truth is another key indicator of the times we live in. The exhortation here is that we need to be grounded in God’s Word. Did you know Satan hates the scriptures? And it was simply the scriptures that Jesus used to defeat Satan’s temptations. There is a lesson in that. But I get off track. The Psalmist was correct in saying “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”.

I want to finish by highlighting something that we may easily forget when we talk about “The day of Christ” (v16) or any study of end times prophecy. There should always be a connection back to how it applies to us, as Peter states in 2 Peter 3:11, “Therefore…what manner of persons ought we to be”.

Looking through every mention of the expectancy of the Lords soon return we see these noticeable exhortations:

· Php 4:5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

· Jas 5:8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

· 1Pe 4:7-8 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "LOVE WILL COVER A MULTITUDE OF SINS."

Notice the character check? Notice the call to unity?

Let’s look to be examples by the way we live, hence the title “Living by Example”.

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)

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