Imitating Christ in Our Perspective

How was your time in Philippians 1 this last week?

Personally, I was struck by how Paul spoke about relationships, priorities, suffering, competition, and life & death from a totally unexpected perspective. Some of these themes are repeated throughout the book, but they’re first presented in chapter 1, and God really challenged me with some practical applications that I share here as well.

Imitating Christ in our perspectives

on Relationships:

The world would have us approach relationships asking “what’s in it for me?” We are encouraged to hold grudges and leverage relationships so that we come out ahead.

But our perspective on relationships ought to imitate Christ: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. […] A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:1, 34). Paul exemplifies this love in his perspective toward the Philippians: he thanks God every time he thinks of them (1:3-4), he prays for them (1:9-11) and he gladly endure difficulties to better serve them (1:24). Surely, the Philippians were not without fault or church issues; indeed, they were experiencing interpersonal strife and wrong doctrine (i.e. 3:2-3 and 4:2-3). Paul had reasons to complain about them, but he chose to be thankful and love them. It’s a matter of perspective.

Do I view relationships as opportunities to serve others or do I look for how I can benefit from them? Am I thankful for my family and friends, coworkers and church members or do I gripe and complain about them?

on Suffering:

The world would have us think that we need to escape pain and suffering at all cost, seeking to live a continually happy story.

But our perspective on difficulties ought to imitate Christ: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Paul sees God’s grace in both imprisonment and successful evangelism. In fact, he states that his hardships have helped advance the Kingdom of God (1:12-14); he looks beyond himself and his difficulties to the big picture. He could have complained about the chains around his feet, the dampness of his cell, the limited food options, and the constant surveillance, but he rejoices that Christ is made known among the prison guards and that other believers are encouraged to also proclaim Christ boldly. Paul celebrates the greater good being accomplished through the pain and suffering. He also explains that for a believer, to suffer for Christ’s sake is a privilege (1:29-30, 3:10-11).

How do I view suffering? Do I try to escape it or do I embrace it? Do I become bitter and resent God, or do I view it as an opportunity to trust Him and proclaim the gospel?

on Priorities:

The world would have us think that we need to get ahead, to gain the right skills, to acquire knowledge, to amass wealth.

But our perspective on priorities ought to imitate Christ: “[The greatest commandment is to] ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. […] And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Paul learned this lesson well, as shown throughout his writings. Interestingly enough, Paul prays that the Philippians’ love may grow, not their knowledge or zeal or faith. Although all these things are important in the Christian walk. Paul knows that LOVE is the all-encompassing trait that believers ought to prioritize. “If I know all mysteries and all knowledge […] but do not have love, I am nothing,” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:2. Sound doctrine is important (see 3:2, 18). But doctrine without love is useless. Knowledge and discernment must always be tempered by love.

Do I read the Bible to get more head knowledge or to ask God to transform my heart? Do I love God and others more today than I did yesterday? How am I prioritizing the cultivation of love in my life?

on Competition:

The world would have us think that we need to survey the field and crush our competition, doing anything we can to get to the top of the ladder.

But our perspective on “competition” ought to imitate Christ: “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40) and “”If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21:22). Paul had this same perspective on the “competition” in Philippi. He didn’t care who preached or even why they did it–as long as God’s Kingdom was advancing through the proclamation of the gospel (1:15-20). Paul didn’t let his ego get in the way of the Kingdom work, and he didn’t ask for “bragging rights” for the work, either. He focused on the task that God gave him to do: proclaiming the gospel to the gentiles.

How do I react when someone else receives credit for my hard work? Am I concerned about the spread of the gospel or protecting my own reputation and crushing competition?

on Life & Death:

The world would have us think that this life is all there is. “Carpe diem! Seize this day,” it says, “because you can’t really know what the afterlife holds, if there even is such a thing.” This life is all that matters.

But our perspective on life and death out to imitate Christ: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). Paul welcomed death because he knew it meant he live on in Jesus’s presence; but he also cherished life because it meant more time and opportunities to advance the Kingdom (1:21-26). Living meant Jesus and dying meant Jesus.

What’s my perspective on life and death? Does God’s Kingdom agenda translate into my daily to-do list? If so, how? If not, why not?


Read It:  Philippians 2 reading schedule

Philippians 2

This week, as we read the second chapter, approach the Bible as God’s Living Word and ask Him to use it in your life. He will gladly honor your prayer (and you may be surprised by what the Holy Spirit reveals).

Share It:

We’ll be on facebook this week sharing what we’re learning every day in chapter 2. Join us!

Memorize It:

Philippians 2:5

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

Discuss It:

What did God speak to you last week? How are you imitating Jesus Christ in your perspectives this week?

I would love to hear from you. Please comment below (and feel free to respond to each others’ comments as well)!