Today’s Scripture Focus: Philippians 3:14-4:1
What does it mean to be a good citizen in your community? Is a decent citizen one who is responsible, obeys the laws, keeps their yard clean, and pays their taxes? Or would we say a good citizen is one who participates in the electoral process by voting? Maybe citizenship is measured by participation in local civic organizations, or volunteering at community schools and churches? There are many ways to evaluate citizenship, but a “model” citizen would be one who would excel at ALL of the these things! In today’s scripture focus, Paul uses the terms “model” and “citizen” as he continues to urge the Philippians to stand together.
A major concern of Philippians is unity. Paul spent the first half of chapter two appealing to his readers to follow Christ’s example of selfless service. In the second half of chapter two, he lifts up his spiritual son Timothy and Philippian church member Epaphroditus as examples of selfless service. Finally, in chapter 3, Paul uses himself as a shining example of selfless service. This may seem as if Paul is bragging, but in fact the opposite is true. Paul uses an ancient literary technique of listing all his accomplishments, not to brag on himself, but to say how he considers all the honors of his life before Christ as “rubbish” compared to serving Christ.
Paul says these things so the Philippians will follow his example of “pressing on”. The words “example” and “model” are related to the Greek term “typos”, a term referring to an impression left on writing surfaces from a stamp or seal. Christ “left an impression” on Paul, so now Paul is moving forward towards Christ, rather than backwards towards his former religion. The Philippians have also been “stamped”, so they must look forward as well! Paul’s enemies would have them look backwards by following their old ways. Paul wants the Philippians to be united in standing together and pressing forward with him.
Paul reminds the Philippians of their citizenship. To be a citizen in Paul’s day was a great privilege. Citizens had rights not available to others. It was in Philippi that Paul used his Roman citizenship after being arrested (Acts 16:37). Most of the residents of Philippi were retired soldiers who had been given citizenship as a reward. It was something of which they would be quite proud. For Christians, their Roman citizenship couldn’t come before their “heavenly” citizenship. What mattered was not earning all the right religious badges or good standing in the community. The only “standing” that matters to the Christian is standing firm while pressing forward towards Christ and His Heaven, our final goal.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
In Philippians 3:15, Paul speaks to those who are “mature”. What does it mean to be a mature Christian? Do we ever stop maturing in our faith?
How is being a good citizen in the Kingdom of God similar to being a good citizen in Denison, Texas (or your community?)
As a class, pray that you will be able to help one another continue to grow as Christians as we make the journey to Heaven together.