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Right actions based on right thinking

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it. Philippians 1:27-30

One of the struggles we deal with as followers of Christ is on how to set our priorities. This happens especially when we live Christ out of our lives and we set ourselves in doing what we think will make us happy and fulfilled. Paul’s challenge for believers from is to focus on right thinking (“discern what is best”) and then right actions (“be pure and blameless”) (Philippians 1:10). Paul then emphasized right actions from the text; “live as citizens of heaven.” What does it mean to be “citizens of heaven?” Heavenly citizenship is by living in a “manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” If it is advantageous for persons to be good citizens of an earthly kingdom, if God can use that to His own glory and to the benefit of those citizens, how much more important is it to be good citizens of the spiritual kingdom? Then Paul provided descriptions of this citizenship wherein he calls on believers to “standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith.” By doing so, they are able to contend for the faith without being frightened and intimidated. In the face of opposition and possible persecution, if they only stand in one spirit, acting as one person, not demonstrating inordinate fear, then they will succeed in their task. Despite the newfound freedom in Christ Jesus, there is still a big tendency to be not of “one spirit.” “Discerning what is best” (Philippians 1:10) is how we get sustained in times of persecutions and suffering. Christlikeness is in opposition to the success-oriented mentality promoted in our culture. This negates the presence of suffering in life. Success is looked upon as the absence of suffering. Suffering does not prove an uncaring or absent God. Rather, it proves that God is in control all the more since He can still execute His will. The victories we experience over these trials come because we remain faithful and obedient to God. Jesus, Paul, and the Philippians all experienced suffering. Yet there is a joy made possible through that suffering because we realize that it is a privilege to suffer in His Name and to trust Him in the midst of it.


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