Read: Philippians 1:18-30
Article Emphasis: Contradictions abound, but one choice is clear — strive together for the gospel.
- Charlie Brown is wishy-washy.
- Kids can’t decide to go or stay.
- Paul seems to be in the same mindset.
Have you ever met someone who can’t make up their mind? They are in constant debate about what they should do, what they should buy, what they should eat, what they should wear, and so on. When my girls were little, they went through this phase where the decision to stay at home with Mommy or run an errand with Daddy could cause a complete meltdown. The problem was that both were great choices! How do you decide between staying at home with mom who might bake or play hide and seek, or go with Dad who might get you a treat while you are out? I mean it’s like the best game ever of “Would You Rather”! Would you rather eat pie or brownies? Would you rather vacation in Hawaii or Italy? Would you rather have the ability to fly or superhuman strength?
As we begin to read this section of Philippians we encounter Paul’s inner dialogue over two great choices. Important to note that we know Paul had no death wish, but instead understood his days were held by the Lord. Yet we see that to Paul both paths the Lord might choose for him we’re good paths.
He could die OR he could live. He could come OR he could stay. Then he ponders about these two different paths the Lord might choose for him:
- If I live that’s for Christ
- But Death would be a gain for me
- I can be used for the gospel if I live
- But I really want to depart and be with Christ
- But if I remain it will be for your benefit
Do you see the inner dialogue? Both choices are so good! Then he wanders, should he come and see them or should he stay. The choices abound! But there is one place within this inner debate that Paul doesn’t wander which path the Lord has for him, because the path is clear.
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…”
Paul knows that no matter which way life takes him he will live it single- mindedly for the gospel of Christ. He encourages those within Philippi to do the same thing.
Life is to be lived worthy of the gospel of Christ! Yet, Paul doesn’t stop there; he undergirds this truth with how the church is to function. They are to stand firm TOGETHER in one spirit and one mind for the sake of the gospel. But “stand” is too soft a word; instead, they are to strive.
If you google the definition of strive, the top two definitions are “make great efforts to achieve or obtain something” and “struggle or fight vigorously.” Sadly, too much striving has been done within the walls of the church, yet the striving hasn’t been focused on the faith of the gospel. It has been on masks, vaccines, politics, homeschool or public school, and so many other subjects. What would Paul say? I think he would question how we have the time and energy to strive over these, but when it comes to spreading the gospel we can’t be bothered!
Where is the one spirit? Where is the one mind? Where is the striving side by side for the faith of the gospel? Did we make a choice to leave this behind? Then what will we say when we see the hurt and brokenness within the church? The divisions? I think Sally would say, “It’s your own fault because you’re so wishy-washy!”
We took the one thing we are called to strive together for, and we replaced it with striving against each other. In doing so, we left behind the conviction and purpose of living a life in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ. How do you see those within the church? Are they truly brothers and sisters? Or are they someone who needs to be corrected, and by corrected, I mean who needs to agree with whatever viewpoint you currently hold?
Let us strive together! Let us work side by side for the sake of the gospel. This world is in need of the gospel, of hope, of light that can shatter the darkness, and we are the ones that can show them that Christ is the answer. But we can’t do this if we are divided.
Paul, in Ephesians 5, writes, “Address one another with psalms and hymns…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” In Colossians 3, he writes for us “to bear with one another, and if wronged, forgive one another, to put on love which binds everything together.” In 1 Thessalonians, he writes, “Admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
This is just a small sample of how Paul teaches us to love one another and to be united as one for the sake of the gospel. Paul’s concern for the unity of the church is that when we are divided and strive against one another, the gospel will suffer.
Life brings choices. Sometimes we have to choose between two hard or bad things, or sometimes we have to decide between a brownie or pie. Maybe you are a pie person, and I’m a brownie person, but we can still live in unity. We can still strive together for the gospel. Even if our choices in these side matters are different, there is one place we need to not be wishy-washy: living in a manner worthy of the gospel and striving together so that this world might know the love of Christ.