Go read Philippians 2:1-13. Focus on Philippians 2:12.
Anytime you read the word “therefore” in Scripture, what do you do? That’s right. You ask yourself why it’s there. Therefore is a connecting word throughout the scriptures that implies a causal relationship – because of this, therefore this – because of a, obey b, etc. You cannot understand Philippians 2:12 without understanding Phil. 2:5-11. Until you’ve been blown away by Christ’s willingness to humble Himself to the point of death on a cross because He loves you in such a personal way that you are willing to give up your whole life to worship, trust and obey Him from hear on out, Philippians 2:12-13 doesn’t matter to you yet.
<> Have you experienced salvation? Has God met you and whispered love in the exact moment that your eyes were opened to your deepest desperation?
<> If no, what do you think stands in the way of God providing for your deepest needs?
<> If yes, how often do you return to that moment (or month) and remember and relive what God did in your heart when He saved you?
In My Absence as in My Presence
There’s a really interesting concept that Paul seems to mention in passing in the beginning of vs. 12. He says the words, “not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence.” Paul is too honest for me to be able to hide from him. In twelve words Paul just summed up a problem known as a heart that has no integrity. Here’s the concept he’s getting at: Of course you obey when I’m around. I’m like your spiritual father or big brother. I’m your mentor. What I want to know is will you continue to obey when I’m not around looking over your shoulder?
<> Who are your spiritual mentors/accountability?
<> Is it easier to live correctly when you know they are around and you can’t hide from them?
Paul in passing notices a tendency in humanity that our willingness to obey is inverse proportional to our ability to hide. The more I can hide what I’m doing the more of an idiot I’m willing to be. The more I know I’m going to be exposed to people I love and trust, the less of a fool I’m willing to live like. What’s amazing about the quote from Paul in vs. 12 is that our attitude is completely wrong. “Now MUCH MORE in my absence,” keep on obeying BECAUSE I’m not around to look over your shoulder. Look, since I’m NOT there, is the EXACT reason that you need to be MORE careful, not more frivolous.
<> Are you building systems and people of accountability in your life so that you cannot hide?
The Ultimate Mentor
The connection between the “therefore” and the notion of integrity Paul is mentioning is that Jesus is our true mentor and He is NEVER not with us. We start to live in a completely backwards and worthless way when we think that Jesus is gone sometimes. He never leaves you. If He has birthed life in you and changed your heart and your mind and your soul and satisfied your deepest hunger, then He’s going to begin a really annoying habit of never leaving you alone. It’s incredibly comforting . . . WHEN you have a heart to surrender and obey. It’s incredibly obnoxious WHEN your heart is bent toward the old flesh nature of sin. In both situations Jesus is exactly what we need. In the same way that it’s easier to live right when you know that your mentors are around and you are not going to be able to hide anything from them, this is always the case because Jesus, your mentor never leaves you.
<> Do you live in the spiritual awareness of Jesus’ presence?
<> What does it change about your attitude toward sin to know that when you give in to temptation, Jesus is not far from you in that moment?