Encouragement for Thursday

This past Sunday we shared in Paul’s message in Philippians 3 encouraging us to follow the correct examples of faith and behavior as believers. Paul reminds us of our ultimate reward at the very end of chapter 3 (“…the Lord Jesus Christ…will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body”). He then begins chapter 4 with a “Therefore…”, which always prompts us to ask what that word is there for. I believe chapter 4 is one of Paul’s greatest chapters in any letter. Somehow, I happened to think of a chapter from another of Paul’s letters that seems to directly parallel his thoughts in chapters 3 and 4. It also begins with “Therefore”:

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” (Ephesians 4:1-4)

The consistency of the theme and language in these chapters is striking. Both Philippians 4 and Ephesians 4 are a call to believers for humility, gentleness, and unity in the faith. It is clear what Paul wants to teach believers—be unified in Christ and the Spirit, and work to strengthen each other. Believers have the same needs and should have the same focus in whatever place they happen to live. We have the same goal—to one day be united with Christ for eternity.

How can we become united? Paul tells us. Lead a life showing Christ’s traits by example. Be humble, gentle, and patient. Allow for each others’ faults. This recipe seems simple but can prove to be difficult for us to follow. We can sometimes be self-centered, rough, and impatient with others. It will take a consistent effort in trying to see our brothers and sisters in the same way that God sees us.

Along with Ephesians 4 a song I haven’t heard in a very long time came to mind. It was Amy Grant’s first very popular Christian song, from 1979. It reminds us how God sees us and proposes that we see others in the same way. Please listen to “My Father’s Eyes”:

Take heart and be encouraged!

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