“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9 NIV)
This verse has always bothered me, because Paul claims so much. His confidence in his teachings and in his behaviour is such that he encourages the Philippians to follow them and his example. And it follows his words about thinking of what is excellent and praiseworthy.
How do you react? How much of this is to do with your culture and background? I confess that on the one hand I have thought Paul arrogant and at the same time felt bad because my own life falls so far short!
But, if we put culture, prejudice, and self-assessment to one side, we can listen carefully to what this verse is advising us to do:
Call to mind the stories of Paul’s life and his teaching.
We read about him, guided by the Holy Spirit, travelling, teaching and preaching with no regard for his own safety or comfort. He pours his heart out to so many and has left a legacy of beautiful writings about love and faith.
Whilst in lockdown, many Christians found encouragement in the letters he wrote from prison.
Paul was completely sold out for Jesus, nothing and no one could distract him. He was wholly dedicated. His actions and his writings point us to Jesus.
So there’s our challenge. Our lives look very different to Paul’s but we can press on, as he did, to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us. (Philippians 3:12).
Questions to Ponder
- Has the last year left you weighed down and dispirited?
- Do you need a dose of the encouraging verses found in the Epistles? Such as: Ephesians 3:16-19, Galatians 5:1,Romans 8:28, Colossians 3:12-16.
- Is it time to dream? God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20)
Prayer of Response
Father God, Thank you for Paul’s life and his writings which teach me so much.Thank you for those who set me a good example in the way they follow you.Help me to fix my eyes on you, accepting your forgiveness for past faults, realising you understand and accept me, despite present failings.Help me to press on, to take hold of all you have for me, knowing that Jesus is holding me. I receive your peace.
—Submitted by Elaine Davis
Now a grandmother to 5 girls in the UK and the prospect of 3 children in Mexico to add to the family mix. Somewhat shaken by two moves and the effects of Covid and lockdown but deep down certain that God has plans for me (and you) as we seek to love others in the strength of His all-encompassing love for us.