As another birthday has come to pass for me, I have to stop and reflect on the previous year of my life. For some getting older can be hard to deal with because it appears as though one may be getting closer to death or maybe just the idea of growing old is scary because of what you may have to face. For me, turning 32 is nothing because it’s just a number. Some people tell me that I may be singing a different tune when I turn 52 or 62 but I hope and pray now that my attitude stays the same. Even though our bodies change, one thing still continues to stay the same, and that is God.
As I get older, I have been learning to live each day with the mindset of how can I mature in Christ today and how can I change from the way I was yesterday in order that I would be more effective for the Kingdom today? One of the many things I try to teach my children is to learn from yesterday in order that we would be better tomorrow. This may seem like such a simple concept but it may be one of the hardest ideas to live out. Self-reflection is something I believe is very important and I also believe the apostle Paul felt the same.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he writes about having one mind (Philippians 1:27 NKJV). What exactly does this mean? Earlier in chapter one, Paul appears to be wrestling with living or dying, because he knows that to die is to be in the presence of the Lord, but to live on would mean for him to bear more fruit for the Lord which would be better for his readers (Philippians 1:19-25 NKJV). As I look back on my life for the last year, I have to ask myself if I have the same mind as Paul. Is it better for the Kingdom of God if I live on here on earth? Are there people who have or will continue to be affected by the fruits of my labor for the Kingdom? In chapter 1, verse 25, Paul was confident that it was better for him to remain for the people he was ministering to. Am I confident of this? Are you confident of this? Why should we be confident of this like Paul was? How do our lives reflect this confidence, or lack of? What choices in attitudes and choices in the way we live need to change in order to have this mind as Paul did which is also that of Christ (Philippians 2:5 NKJV)?
Paul continues in chapter two by explaining how we should conduct ourselves. Philippians 2:1-5, 14-16 states, “1…if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus… 14Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain” and then in verse 21 he tells us basically that we are selfish. As he continues, Chapter 3:3, Paul tells us to have NO confidence in the flesh but to rejoice in Jesus. In addition, Paul explains in 3:12-16 that he has not yet finished but that he continues to move forward always toward Christ. This is the mind that we should have. He reminds his readers in verse 20, that our citizenship is in Heaven and therefore we should be living in a way that reflects that.
Chapter 4 of Philippians verses 4-9, Paul encourages and reminds his readers to “4Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you”. Therefore with all of this in mind, Do we live with one mind in Christ or separate minds of our own selfishness? Whether you’re turning another year older this week as I have, or you feel you’ve lived a long life, the fact remains that as long as we live, we should be living for Christ?
As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth again in a few days and close out 2015 next week, what areas in our lives need to change to have the confidence in Christ as Paul did? How will our lives bear fruit that is beneficial to the Kingdom in 2016? Will we who are believers have one mind?
Philippians 1:19-27 (NKJV) 19For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. 27Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…
Philippians 3:3, 12-16, 20 (NKJV) 3For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh… 12Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind… 20For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…