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Rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. - Philippians 3:1-2 (NIV)
There is a difference between “rights” and “privileges.” I have the right drive, but it is a privilege to own a car. I have the right to go to school, but it’s a privilege to play on the basketball team at school.
Growing up a Kentucky kid in Alabama, I learned that football was king and the hoop sport of my home state was something football players did to stay in shape. At least that’s how it worked at Pelham High School in the late 80s. Before my sophomore year, the new football coach replaced the basketball coaches with his assistant coaches. Then, he put his football players on the basketball teams while us “hoops purists” became charge-drill dummies and pine-riders. My privilege was squashed by a guy in authority who had the right to make a really bad decision. He stole my joy.
In Philippians 3, Paul addresses joy-thieves. These “religious” elites made it very difficult for Christians to take joy in the grace-privilege of following Jesus. They tried to make following Jesus a painful, charge-drill experience where grace got mowed over by out of control rules and expectations.
You will experience dogs in your life who want to steal your joy and the privileges you have in Christ. They make following Jesus harder than He meant it to be. But Paul tells us to “rejoice in the Lord” and to put up safeguards protecting us from these thieves. This week we’ll dive deeper into understanding the joy-filled privileges we have in Jesus that no one can take away from us.
Do you know someone who tries to make following Jesus more of a chore than a joy? Today, pray that God will give you the wisdom to put up safeguards in your relationship so that your focus is on the simplicity of following Jesus rather than the challenges of meeting their expectations.Share Tweet
For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. - Philippians 3:3 (NIV)
There is a difference between “obligations” and “privileges.” I am obligated to pay taxes, but it is a privilege to give to my church. I am obligated to provide for my children, but it is a privilege to spend time with them.
When I was in high school, I mowed my grandparents’ yards. I wish I could tell you that I was an awesome grandson and mowed out of the goodness of my heart. But that would be a lie. I got paid handsomely for that weekly chore and I griped about having to do it. One week as I was whining about having to mow, my mom broke out scripture on me - 1 Timothy 5:8. ME, a soon-to-be Bible College student getting a biblical lecture from my mom about taking care of family members. How dare she?
I was a spoiled kid back then and didn’t appreciate the privilege of getting to serve my family members who were so wonderful. Now all of my grandparents are in Heaven and I’d love to be able to mow their lawns for free and just hang out with them. What was an obligation back then I now see as a joy-filled privilege.
Paul reminds us that worship is a privilege for those whose hearts are truly laid bare before God. Worship is not an obligation. We serve a God who invites us into His presence and desires our attention, yet I often stand in His presence hoping I like the song and wondering what’s for lunch. I’m a spoiled brat when I treat worship as an obligation. I should come before God with joy, eager to worship HIm because it’s a privilege He’s blessed me with.
What kind of heart do you bring before God in worship? A spoiled one that feels obligated or a joyful one that is privileged to spend time with the Creator of all things?Share Tweet
Spend a few minutes in joyful worship today. Sing a song to Him. Tell Him out loud how awesome He is. Just be still with all of your attention on Him.
….though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more... - Philippians 3:4 (NIV)
There is a difference between “achievements” and “privileges.” I can achieve running a half marathon, but it’s a privilege to be able to walk. I can achieve reading 10 books this year, but it’s a privilege to be able to see.
When Jesus chose His 12 disciples, He chose guys no one else would pick. He chose guys who had not achieved anything besides smelling like dirty fish, successfully cheating people out of their money, and conspiring behind His back to sell Him out to the Pharisees. When it came to achievements, the 12 disciples were the “Bad News Bears.”
But Saul was different. Saul was the perfect Hebrew and was also a Roman Citizen which carried with it a boatload of rights and privileges. He was an impressive Pharisee, well educated and zealous for the things of God. As for abiding by the Law, he was above reproach. When it came to achievements, Saul was Tom Brady.
But then Jesus showed up for Saul and everything changed, including his name. Saul became Paul and with the switch of a consonant, this impressive, arrogant religious overachiever became a blind, humble follower of Jesus. (Acts 9)
In Philippians 3, combating these misguided religious dogs, Paul goes toe-to-toe with their achievements and one-ups them. He makes it clear that if being a joyful follower of Jesus hinged upon human achievement, He had them licked. But Paul is setting them up to understand that human achievements only puff up our ego while submitting to the simplicity of following Jesus ignites a joy bomb that can be heard around the world.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. - Philippians 3:7-9 (NIV)
There is a difference between “earning” and “privilege.” I earn money for work, but I am privileged to receive a gift. I earn respect by investing in relationships, but I am privileged to be shown courtesy by a complete stranger.
Yesterday we saw Paul clamoring about personal achievements. Today is the day he flips the script. Paul acknowledges that true treasure is gaining Christ. Paul could earn respect from his readers by putting down his pen after 3:6. Instead, he goes on to show that earning praise is garbage compared to the joy found in God’s grace.
Paul describes the privilege of being justified in Christ. Justification is a legal term. When we submit to Jesus, God looks at us and doesn’t see our sin. Instead, He sees the perfection of Jesus and the punishment-exchange paid by an innocent Man: Jesus, for a guilty man: ME. It’s JUST-AS-IF I’d paid the penalty for my sin. But I didn’t. Jesus did. I didn’t earn forgiveness. Jesus gave it to me. It’s grace and that privilege causes me to live a joy-filled life even on the worst of days.
If you’ve never accepted the free gift of God’s grace - His forgiveness through Jesus - then pray this prayer today:
“Father, thank You for Jesus. Thank You that He paid my penalty for me. Please forgive me of my sins in Jesus and know that from this day forward, I am laying down my pursuit to earn Your love and am accepting the free gift of Your grace by faith in Jesus. Thank You, Lord, for the privilege to be your accepted child.”
If you prayed that prayer, you are now a joy-filled follower of Jesus! Check this out to see what’s next!Share Tweet
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. - Philippians 3:10-11 (NIV)
There is a difference between “responsibility” and “privilege.” I have a responsibility to obey the law, but it’s a privilege to live in a free country where those same laws protect me. I have a responsibility to clean my house, but I have the privilege of living in a house with a roof over my head.
One of the best bosses I’ve ever had was Gordon Walls. Gordon was an incredible supervisor but was a better leader, coach, and friend. I had a lot of responsibilities under Gordon’s leadership and if I neglected them, he had the authority to take me down. But I didn’t work to do a good job under Gordon because I was afraid of getting in trouble. I did a good job because it was a privilege to serve and honor him with a job well-done.
Yesterday, Paul talked about the privilege of coming to Christ - justification. Today, our verses are about following and obeying Jesus after we’ve accepted His grace - sanctification. After coming to Jesus, I try to obey the Bible, not because I’m afraid of getting in trouble but because it’s a joy-filled privilege to live in relationship with Jesus and to honor Him with my life.
As Christians, we are blessed with the privileges of salvation, freedom, and hope. When we recognize these privileges, our lives should be a joy-bomb that goes off in every room we walk into.