THE BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS
J. Deering, AncientPath.net
Now a third need of the Philippians comes to light - They need to lose their grumbling and disputing attitudes.
This is one of my "pet-peeves." Christians who grumble and dispute. It often seems epidemic within the local church (a reflection of the condition of the world). Everyone you talk with in the local body wants to complain about their health, their lives in general, and sadly - their relationships with other believers.
The Greek word for grumbling in this verse means "murmur." That word is an onomatopoeia (pm-o-mat-o-pia). That's a word, or words, that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to. In this case "murmur" is the sound a displeased crowd makes. Do you "murmur" out loud or in your heart when someone makes a statement to your disliking? Do you "murmur" when your Pastor preaches on a topic that you find disagreeable? That sound, that movement of the head or body (body language) tells all around you that you disagree - and you break the UNITY of the Body of Christ when you do it!
It is common experience to attend various church committee meetings and have to suffer through disputings. "I think," "I want," "You can't...," "They can't...," etc. You break the UNITY of the Body of Christ when you do it!
How sad it is that members of the Body of Christ can't agree or get along with each other. Why is it that we let the Flesh, the World, and the Devil infiltrate our hearts and minds robbing us of the UNITY of the Body of Christ that is so precious to God the Father, the Unity that comes from submission to the Holy Spirit and the Will of God. Here we are - IN-CHRIST - and we complain and dispute. We need the opposite intentions in our hearts and minds if we are to progress beyond this verse.
Now starts a fourth need of the Philippians - It was hard to tell them from the "crooked and perverse" generation of the world they lived in. They need to understand the Biblical proofs that they should walk blameless, and innocent, as children of God.
"So that" - indicates that the subject of the preceding verse is necessary to complete the action of this verse. Namely the UNITY of the Body of Christ - through YOU.
It is only WITHOUT murmurings and disputings within the Body of Christ that...
You will prove yourselves to be BLAMELESS and INNOCENT CHILDREN OF GOD!
It is only WITHOUT murmurings and disputings within the Body of Christ that YOU can be "above reproach" as a testimony to the Glory of God - in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
Who is the crooked and perverse generation - The World. As I get older and older I understand more and more... the world is a crooked and perverse place. Without Christ, Without God, Without Hope. Oh, that we could STOP being like them - that they might be SAVED through our witness and testimony because we are not like them.
And finally a fifth item the Philippians needed to know - they needed to know who they really were - Lights In The World - ones who "Hold fast the Word of Life," (Jesus Himself).
This is the way we are supposed to appear, be seen, be known as - Lights in the world, holding fast the word of life (Christ). How glorious would it be if those who see you, know you, interact with you, would see you as a LIGHT in the midst of their darkness. Isaiah wrote of the coming of Christ.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. (Isaiah 9:2-5)
It is THROUGH Jesus Christ that you will break the yoke, break the rod of the oppressor and burn the boots of the warriors. It will not be you who is the victor, but Christ Himself.
He is the one whom we should reflect, but we can't reflect His precious light if we are not a reflection of His character, If we are not a reflection of the Holy Spirit's power, and if we are not a reflection of God's will.
If we don't reflect Him then we are not seen as those who "hold fast the word of life." We become a "non-source" of His salvation. We become instead the very reason they will have nothing to do with Him!
Therefore we need to change and become like Him in every way. We need to change our murmurings to voices of agreement and we need to change our attitude of disputing to attitudes of UNITY within, and without, the Body of Christ. Then we need to become beacons of light and effective, efficient bearers of The Word of God - in such a manner as to have much fruit.
Just to recap the first verses 12-16...
The Philippians needed:
2. Understanding that it is God's doing
3. To not grumble and dispute among themselves
4. To have PROOF of being blameless
5. They should have been LIGHTS of Jesus in the World.
Now were back to the reason Paul bring this up. We began at verse 12 with a listing of those things Paul wanted to see in the Body of Christ at Philippi. Because he brought these issues up we can logically imply that they were lacking them in their local assembly, for Paul tells us next that if they were to accomplish these things - he would have reason to glory in them (the assembly at Philippi).
Paul is not being ego-centric here. This is not about him, it is about them. If they were to continue as they have been, and then overcome their problems with grumbling and disputing, the would have attained what Paul had hoped for them as a local Body of Christ assembly.
Paul has labored over them and now, toward the end of his ministry, he wishes them to become complete. How sad it often is when someone begins a great work only to never finish it. In Paul's case he is older and persecuted. He knows that his time is probably short and he does not want to leave this life with his work with the Philippians incomplete for time is growing short for Paul.
Paul continues to share his seemingly terminal situation with them. The previous verse speaks of Philippian performance that needs to improve in order that his work with them was completed. He wants to "glory" in them when his life is over - for their sake.
He could have added, "you know, there is little time left for me to see that happen!" to make the meaning here easier for us - but he did not. Instead he sends them this remarkable picture of this life he has been living for them.
Picture the Temple and the Altar of Sacrifice. There upon the altar are the sacrifices and services of the Philippian Body of Christ - laid out and ready to be consumed by Almighty God. But there, before the Priesthood comes to light the fires of the sacrifice, comes Paul with a decanter of the nectar of their faith. He is going to perform the ritual of "the Drink Offering." The Bible speaks of the Drink Offering from cover to cover. The drink offering is always "poured out," a reference to the work it represents - Paul has "poured out" his life in sacrifice and offerings on behalf of the Philippians. It is the Priest who pours out the offering and Paul comes as part of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ - of which we all are priests. The Drink Offering is poured out upon the ground representing a pouring out to God for everything is His. The Drink Offering is made alongside a burnt offering and represents that this "burnt" offering is to be completely and utterly consumed by fire to the Glory of God and Him alone.
Paul is saying that he felt that he was the contents of the Drink Offering, he was the "juice" of the vine, he was a portion of the fruit of the vine squeezed from the vine and made into a sacrifice. Paul says that he places himself as a sacrifice that the WORK OF THE PHILIPPIANS (their sacrifice) would be found acceptable before God.
Paul says that he rejoices in his roles as pastor, teacher, counselor, and friend to the Philippians - even now, even if they don't get to change their attitudes on murmuring and disputing - even now as he is being "squeezed" from the vine and being made into a sacrifice.
After such a heartfelt revelation about himself Paul wants to SHARE his rejoicing with ALL of them, the good and the bad, the faithful and those not so faithful, the obedient and the not so obedient, in the Body of Christ at Philippi - Come - Share my joy about you, before the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - Come, Share my joy! I urge you to Share my joy!
We always need to remember the thief on the cross next to Jesus. All who come to Christ, regardless of age or maturity level, regardless of their life's performance, come to His salvation by faith through belief. "Today you will be with me in Paradise."
He then moves into verse :18 and states the obverse and the reverse (the two sides of a coin) - "I urge you, Rejoice in the same way - and then...... share your joy with me."
Picture a circular diagram where two great thoughts spin round and round. "My joy complete in you," Your Joy complete in me."
Paul does not talk of happiness or profit, he speaks of joy. Joy is the bubbling up of things positive and wonderful that results in a pure sense of satisfaction - Joy! It is a lasting experience even in the midst of sorrow and pain - Joy!
I have a friend that I see at least once a month. He's another techno-geek like me and we usually have lunch together. I gather from him that he enjoys nothing better than hearing of my involvement in projects and especially when I share my joys. I know that I no of no better thrill than hearing of his joys. How unlike the world where most of the information passed between individuals is for personal profit or gain. How lovely it is when we believers are able to come together and share our joys and how remarkable it is in a self-oriented and perverse world.
Many years ago, when I was a pastor of a small church in New Jersey, an older woman in my congregation became ill. My wife and I visited her in the hospital and she was in much pain and knew she was going to die shortly. Her name was Mabel Esposito. Mabel bubbled up with joy - joy about her life with Christ, Joy about her life of faithfulness to her husband, Joy that she was soon going to be "home" with Jesus, her Lord. We left her bedside with tears of joy in our own eyes, completely blessed by this dying woman. She died that same night - full of joy. We remember her as if it were just yesterday - we remember her joy as she shared it with us.
Paul says, "Share your joy with me!" Indeed, share your joy with those around you. It might be a moment that others remember for a lifetime.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
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