December 4, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.”—Philippians 1:27–30 (NIV)
After telling the Philippians he believes his imprisonment won’t end with his execution, Paul says, “Whatever happens . . .” Basically, whether he lives and comes to visit them or he departs to “be with Christ,” he instructs his spiritual children by saying, “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
The word for conduct yourselves is politeuomai. Notice anything interesting about that word? It’s literally where we get our English word polite. This word—which refers to a productive, praiseworthy, upstanding member of society, one who abides by and has pledged to the laws of the land—is used here by the apostle to describe the manner in which a believer should live. He directs us to live as good citizens, but as we find out in Philippians 3:20, he wasn’t talking about Roman, Greek, Israelite, or any other earthly citizenship. Instead, he’s instructing us to operate as citizens of heaven, as people who abide in and have pledged ourselves to the law of the gospel.
Often, people think that being a Christian requires us to follow an impossible set of laws and behavioral standards. Truthfully, it’s not that complicated. A Christ follower simply needs to love Jesus, follow Jesus, and have an intimate relationship with Jesus. And as we walk with Jesus in this manner, we will learn to think, speak, act, and live like Jesus more and more each day. So, in order to live in a manner worthy of our heavenly citizenship, we simply need to learn from the King of heaven!
When we, through relationship and devotion, allow He who began a good work in us to carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6), particularly in the face of hardship, trials, persecution, and animosity from the world, then our lives will let everyone know our faith is real and our salvation and hope for the future are secure! This was important for them to hear, because the persecution of believers was really beginning to ramp up in this time, and the Philippians themselves were experiencing it (Philippians 1:29–30).
The same is true for the Church today. All around the world, believers are experiencing intense suffering for their faith in Jesus. Even in Western culture, we’re seeing increasing pressure and hostility toward true believers.
In light of this, whether you find yourself today in triumph or trial, peace or persecution, I encourage you to abide in Christ by walking in intimacy and devotion to Him. As you do, the Spirit will empower you to walk worthy of the gospel, to live like Christ, and to “have the same mindset as Christ” in your interactions with others. Remember, your life is a testimony that can make a difference, because the Lord can use your gospel-worthy conduct to draw people away from destruction and toward salvation.
Pause: Why do you think it’s important for your conduct to match your faith? How does this verse inspire you to live out your faith?
Practice: Pray for believers around the world whom have been granted to “not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29 NIV). Pray and ask the Lord to be with them “that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen [them] with power through his Spirit in [their] inner being” (Ephesians 3:16 NIV), and that He would use their suffering to actually serve to advance the gospel (Philippians 1:12) and lead people away from their destruction and wrath and toward repentance and salvation!
Pray: Father, help me to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel. By Your love, draw me deeper into the grace of Jesus and into fellowship with the Spirit so I may be able to live like Jesus and “in every way” “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10 NIV). Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.