February 21, 2013

Encouragement in the face of suffering

By Brian O’Leary, a senior Bible and religion major from Seattle, Wash.
SCRIPTURE: Philippians 3:17-4:1 (NRSV)
DEVOTIONAL:

In the passage for today, Philippians 3:17-4:1, Paul writes to encourage his readers. He encourages them to join in his example regarding his actions. Earlier on in this epistle, Paul mentions his own upcoming death sentence and notes that his imprisonment has actually, “served to advance the Gospel.”

In the same vein of support, Paul seeks to encourage Christians even in the face of denial and the enemies of the cross of Christ. He notes suffering as his example, an example we must all follow. Paul makes no apologies for the difficulty of the path of God, and although Paul’s struggles with imprisonment and death may seem more serious than our own struggles through the season of Lent, they both have their roles to play. Lent may not bring an omen of death for all of us, as it did to Jesus, but whatever our struggles we must not let the enemies of the cross cause us to lose heart.

Though Lent may seem to be a difficult time, we can also recognize that “our citizenship is in heaven.” We are not people whose minds should be, “set on earthly things.” Instead, we “stand firm in the Lord,” and seek hope during Lent.

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 3:17-4:1 (NRSV)
Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

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Comments (3)

  1. Thank you for the reminder that our minds should be with the “true” end in sight and in spite of suffering to stand firm. May God give you more wisdom as you grow in him.

    Betty February 21, 2013 |
  2. Thanks for your words of encouragement today!

    Jenny February 21, 2013 |
  3. Brian, I am sitting in a Seattle coffee shop right now, reading your meditation. So greetings from your hometown! (It is overcast, surprisingly.) Thanks for providing the context of this scripture. I had read it previously in isolation. It’s a wonderful reminder of what kingdom we are citizens of–not empire, not nations, not a culture of greed and self-fulfillment first. Thanks for bringing the perspective I needed before preaching this Sunday.

    Kathy February 21, 2013 |