Generally speaking, faithfulness is a commitment to something greater than ourselves. When the Bible speaks about faithfulness it’s talking about a commitment to Someone greater than ourselves. Faithfulness is a lifelong commitment to following the Lord Jesus Christ. Whereas the source of our faithfulness to Jesus is the faithfulness of God, the faithfulness of God is motivated by His delight in His own glory. One way in which God delights in His glory is by having His Spirit make us more like Jesus. To paraphrase John Piper, the more satisfied we are by the faithfulness of God, the more He is glorified in us.
Only let your manner of life be worthy 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, 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. 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, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
Paul’s instruction in Philippians 1.27-30, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,” is a call to live faithfully by trusting in the faithfulness of God. It is a call to trust Jesus by trusting in the trustworthiness of God. Once again; the more satisfied we are by the faithfulness of God, the more He is glorified in us.
The more satisfied I am by the faithfulness of God the more faithfully I will follow Jesus—not partially, but as totally as I can—this side of eternity. I will never be perfect at living faithfully, but with the Spirit’s help, I can resolve to live faithfully by trusting in the faithfulness of God.
To live faithfully we must be directed by the same kind of thinking as directed Jesus.
Referring to Jesus in Philippians 2.5, Paul writes, “…who though He was in the form of God, did not count (or, think) equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Since Jesus did not think equality with God something to be grasped, the fruit of His way of thinking was the ultimate act of selflessness and sacrifice. Paul’s command sounds impossible. How can our lives be directed by the same kind of thinking as directed Jesus? And yet, since neither Paul nor God is in the habit of giving impossible commands; the way forward is to focus on the kind of thinking which directed Jesus before focusing on the action He took as the result of such thinking.
This is exactly what Jesus meant when, referring to Himself, He said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many,” (Mark 10.10) The faithfulness of Jesus is revealed by His obedience to His Father’s plan.
So then, the thing to focus on is this: the obedience of Jesus is the fruit of a way of thinking which Paul commands us to adopt and apply. Jesus emptied Himself by becoming human and by becoming obedient. He humbled Himself by pouring out His life in an act of obedience motivated by an unwavering trust in the trustworthiness of God. In the same manner, we must resolve to live faithfully by trusting in the trustworthiness of God.
In order for my life to be directed by the same kind of thinking as directed Jesus, I must follow faithfully His example of selflessness and humility. It is no less than a lifelong commitment to Jesus’ call to discipleship in Mark 8.34-35 ~
“If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s, will save it.”
Jesus lived faithfully by adopting a way of thinking which led Him to trust His heavenly Father with His very life. He trusted God to honor His obedience. Even more, He left to God the timing of that honor. Speaking of Jesus, Hebrews 5.8 says, “Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.”
It is worth remembering that the command, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” is given to the entire church, not isolated individuals. To follow Jesus faithfully requires following Him as part of a community of like-minded believers all committed to trusting in the trustworthiness of God.
When we live faithfully we contribute to the overall health of the church.
Paul wrote Philippians from prison. Since he did not when, or if, he would ever see them, he promised to send Timothy. In the meantime, he sent them another of his trusted confidantes, Epaphroditus. Notice how Paul describes the character of these men.
“For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.”
“I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious.”
We need people like Timothy and Epaphroditus in the church. Their value is their faithfulness to Jesus. Their lives were directed by the same kind of thinking as directed Jesus. Paul recognizes this and he commends them to the Philippians as servant-leaders.
The importance of Timothy and Epaphroditus to the church at Philippi becomes clear near the end of Paul’s letter. If you read Philippians carefully, one senses something is not quite right. There is a tension in the church. There is a public disagreement between Euodia and Syntche, two women who are prominent in the church. In all likelihood, Paul is sending Epaphroditus, and later Timothy, to help resolve the conflict. Some scholars think Luke, who authored the gospel bearing his name as well as the Book of Acts, is already present in Philippi and needs help leading the church toward reconciliation.
The Spirit-inspired cleverness of what Paul does here is this: by extolling the character of Timothy and Epaphroditus, he is putting Euodia and Syntyche as well as their compatriots on notice. These men are to be taken seriously and their leadership is to be respected. What they say, Paul says. Remember, Paul is an apostle. What he says, Jesus says.
Paul is sending Timothy and Epaphroditus because they can help the Philippians to stand firm in one Spirit, and with one mind so they can contend side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not be frightened in anything by their opponents. This requires unity. This requires everyone in the church making the same resolution: to live faithfully by trusting in the covenant-keeping character God.
Jesus is the supreme example of trusting in the covenant-keeping character of God. In the same way He trusted in the trustworthiness of God, so must we follow His example.
To live faithfully means trusting God to supply our needs.
Paul wrote Philippians from prison. From prison! And yet he is convinced God will supply their every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
The only way a man in prison can have such trust in God’s faithfulness is because he has learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. The source of Paul’s faithfulness is the faithfulness of God in the person of Jesus Christ. This is why Paul says, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Just as God enabled and empowered Jesus to endure the cross, scorning its shame, so too, God can enable and empower us to live faithfully by trusting in His faithfulness.
God supplied Paul with everything he needed. Paul assures the Philippians God will prove just as faithful to supply every need of theirs. God will finish what He started because He will supply everything we need to get us to the finish line.
And this is the key. None of us is born faithful. We must learn to trust God to supply every need of ours – starting with our greatest need: salvation. We must learn to live faithfully. Once we trust God for our salvation, we can begin to learn how to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. It comes down to making a resolution to live faithfully by trusting in the faithfulness of God.
The challenge is to trust God to define the need. Living faithfully means trusting God to supply our every need not our every want. We want many things, but we need very few. In 1 Timothy 6.8, Paul boiled it down to two things: if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
Faithful followers believe that should our need surpass the need for food and clothing, God will be faithful to supply every need of ours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To live faithfully is to trust in the faithfulness of God.
Over the years, I have kept a journal. From time to time I re-read previous entries to remind myself of God’s faithfulness, especially during seasons when He met my needs in ways I did not expect. Here is my Journal entry dated Thursday, 9 January 2014;
“My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
I begin this day remembering that God is Yahweh Yireh. He is the God who provides. He is the Great I AM who will supply my every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Today I remember, “I can trust God in the present because of what He has already done for us in the past, which leads me to depend on Him for my future,” (Scott J. Hafemann).
As I look back over 2013, I remember with thanksgiving how God supplied my every need. We had food, clothing, shelter and income – all these were the fruit of His provision.
When I was vulnerable to doubt and questioned God’s willingness and ability to supply my every need, the Spirit reminded me of Paul’s words in Philippians 4.19 together with Hafemann’s maxim to inspire me to put my hope and trust in God’s promise of future grace. God will not leave us nor forsake us. God continues to provide/supply every need of mine notwithstanding my fear He will let me experience lack. So I must yield my anxious heart to His providing grace. I must speak to my soul and encourage trust/obedience in God and His provision. God is faithful. He will supply every need of mine. His promise is as sufficient as it is praiseworthy. Surplus is grace upon grace.
There are many reasons why God is faithful to supply every need of mine, but the two most fundamental reasons why are—
- to glorify His name
- to encourage me to a greater faithfulness to Him – the more satisfied I am in God the more glorified He is in me.
I resolve to live faithfully by trusting in the faithfulness of God.
When we trust God to supply our need the Holy Spirit teaches us to live with the broader perspective of God’s point of view. And as the Spirit widens our gaze He helps us to look beyond the margins of our own heart, mind and soul. He focuses our attention on where God is at work. Although His hand is unseen, He is writing the script, constructing the background, and blocking each scene. God is in charge from top to bottom, start to finish, opening night to final performance. And He will supply our every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
You think about that.