Living worthily of the gospel includes Christlike self-giving and God’s joyful generosity; friendship with God and equality with others; abandoning fantasies of security and accepting complexity; discerning God’s correction and God’s encouragement. The good news is that we don’t have to do it all on our own.
Earlier in Philippians, Paul expresses confidence “that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ,” and prays that their love may abound in insight “to determine what is best,” and so produce “the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ” (1:6, 10-11). Later he urges them, since he can’t be with them, “to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (2:12-13, niv).
The Philippians don’t need Paul’s presence for guidance. Nor do they generate lives “worthy of the gospel” on their own. They don’t have to be anxious about whether they are doing enough or doing it right. The righteousness (or justice) God desires, even the will to do justice, is created by divine purpose and action among them, created by God’s activity through Christ in them.
The life Paul envisions as “worthy of the gospel” calls for discernment, determining what is best, by attending to the guidance and movement of the Spirit within the believer and the believing community. Our spiritual and moral lives are not just a matter of our personal growth. They are part and parcel of God’s overarching plan for humanity and all creation. God is active in us, works hand-in-hand with us, to accomplish what needs to be accomplished for the sake of justice and righteousness.
Through prayer or meditation, offer your openness to the Spirit to work from within you to move the good purpose of God toward completion.
The psalmist recounts many of God’s glorious deeds. The escape from Egypt features prominently, including the Exodus story we are reading this week. God knows that the people need food and provides both meat and bread. Unfortunately, the people do not have the perspective of the psalmist, so God’s miraculous provision does not stop their grumbling. In Philippians, Paul reflects on Christian suffering. Although he would rather be with the Lord, he endures suffering so that he may help others. Other believers should expect to suffer as well. Jesus tells a parable about a landowner. No matter what time the workers go out, they are all equally paid. Likewise, those who follow Jesus their entire lives and those who meet the Lord late in life will partake equally in glory.
Read Exodus 16:2-15. When have you been confident of God’s love and presence? When have you been uncertain?
Read Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45. When do you smooth over the “bumps” in the stories of your family, your church, or your faith? When is it important to recount the complaining or mistakes along the way?
Read Philippians 1:21-30. When has the “good news to the poor” challenged you? When you feel challenged by it, how do you seek to live “worthy of the gospel”?
Read Matthew 20:1-16. How does Jesus’ idea of equality surprise you? How might a posture of generosity change your concept of fairness?
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