1:27 “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”
Philippians 1:27 (NIV)
I was the chaplain for a team that experienced great success for a few years. It was a common practice for veteran players to meet rookies at the airport arriving for their first mini-camp. They laid down some team standards, places to avoid and expectations to heed.
Then came a season when the make-up of the team changed. It was the rowdy leaders who met the rookies and led the charge to those places they used to avoid. The win/loss record took a dive.
One day in the following off-season, I played racquetball with one of the wilder veterans on the team. On a break between games I asked what he thought happened to their season. Without hesitation he replied, “You can win games without character, but if you begin to fail, you can’t stop the collapse without character.”
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was the veteran pulling the rookies to pay attention to the impact of their circumstances. He had been thrown into jail for his outspoken preaching about Jesus. In his absence other voices, marked by personal ambition and false teaching, had begun to creep into the fellowship of believers.
Paul urged the believers at Philippi to stand firm in their conduct, to be like-minded in the standards of their faith. We need people like Paul in our lives to remind us to stand firm when our circumstances tempt us to waver.
When difficult circumstances persist in our lives, it is tempting to throw in the towel. Satan begins to plant thoughts in our minds, causing us to wonder if the effort to walk with God is worth it. We begin to question His character, concern and even His help. We are vulnerable to outside voices.
Tough times are a call to stand firm.