“Word for Today” – Philippians 4 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

November 20, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

Marathon 1Last weekend, my wife Melody ran in the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon.  She ran the half-marathon.  It was 13 miles of pounding the pavement.  Actually, as she has reminded me several times, it was 13.1 miles of pounding the pavement.  Considering that the longest race I have ever run is a 5k, I am unspeakably proud of her.  And she, rightfully so, is proud of herself.  For she had to train for months in preparation for this race.  My wife has run many a 5k and has even participated in a triathlon.  But, from an athletic standpoint at least, this race was her crowing achievement.

Many people have accomplishments in their lives which they would consider “crowning achievements.”  Sometimes these crowning achievements are academic in nature, such as the garnering of a degree.  Other times they are personal in nature – a marriage or the birth of a child.  Whatever particular form these crowing achievements may take, they all share a common denominator:  They are all things of which we are proud.

In our reading for today from Philippians 4, Paul proudly speaks of a crowning achievement:  “Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends” (verse 1)!  Paul speaks of a crown which he proudly wears.  But this crown is not a list of his finest accomplishments; rather, it is a group of redeemed people.  Paul’s crown is his brothers and sisters in Christ – those whom he loves, longs for, and prays that they would stand firm in their faith.  Paul’s crown is full of people!

If anyone could have had a “crown of achievements,” it would have been Paul.  As we saw in yesterday’s reading, Paul was known the religious world over for his monumental spiritual achievements.  Indeed, Paul had so many spiritual achievements to his name, that he not only could have filled a crown with them, he would have had to shoehorn some of his achievements in just to get all of them to fit!  As Paul himself writes:

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. (Philippians 3:4-6)

As impressive as all these accomplishments might be, Paul does not place a single one of them in his crown.  For Paul’s concern is not for his own stature, status, or stateliness.  No, Paul’s concern is that more and more people trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  People redeemed by the gospel, not his own accomplishments, incrust Paul’s crown.

This is why Paul concludes his letter to the Philippians with these tender words:  “Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household” (verses 21-22).  More than likely, Paul wrote Philippians while in Rome, under arrest and waiting to be tried before the Caesar of the time, who happened to be Nero.  Thus, in his closing greetings, Paul mentions “those who belong to Caesar’s household” as saints who send greetings to the saints in Philippi.  Apparently, while under arrest, Paul had shared the gospel with Caesar’s guards and attendants, and some of them had believed.  And more people were added to Paul’s crown.

In a world which so often hails those who have great accomplishments to their names, our goal should be to see more and more people bend their knees to the name of Jesus Christ.  This goal may not win the accolades of the world, but it will bring a smile to our Heavenly Father’s face.  For the crowns of achievements for which men so earnestly strive will one day all be lost.  The crowns of people, redeemed by God, however, will last into eternity.  So put people in your crown.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Philippians 3 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – 1 Thessalonians 1 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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