Philippians 1:27-30 English Standard Version (ESV)
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy[a] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
As I reflect on the first chapter of Philippians, this very much feels like a warm letter to friends, doesn't it? In fact, the The Voice translation records Paul and Timothy greeting "you, our friends in Philippi" in verse 1. Paul goes on to passionately pray for his friends for their love to grow more and more in wisdom and then, after praying, he shares that he has some good news of the "believe it or not" variety. What is this good news he seems so anxious to share? It's that his being in prison has caused the gospel to spread to new places and populations!
You can almost hear Paul saying, "You're not gonna believe this, friends, but even my being imprisoned has helped our cause! Can you believe THAT?"
And as we get to the end of Chapter 1, we find Paul encouraging his friends to conduct themselves as worthy citizens of the Kingdom. He's reminding them that it doesn't matter whether you are imprisoned or not, Jesus's death on the cross has ushered in a new Kingdom, a new Reality, that subsumes whatever temporary imprisonment you may be enduring. So, stand firm! Be single-minded! Struggle TOGETHER.
Paul encourages his friends, and all of us, to not be paralyzed by our fears but instead to willingly suffer for Jesus.
What is the difference between being paralyzed by your fears and standing firm?
Where might the Kingdom advance by your standing firm and enduring suffering in an area of your life?
As you think forward into this season of Lent, is there an area of your life you sense God inviting you to abstain from?
Is there an area of your life God is wanting to consume by His fiery love through your holding still long enough for beautiful ashes to form?