Philippians 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it.”
I grew up knowing that verse, yet recently the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see the context of that verse, and how its truth is more powerful than I had realized.
At the time, I was praying for some people who are very dear to me, and I was facing doubts that God was going to move in their life, enable them to understand His promises, give them revelation, etc. But then one day I found myself thinking of that verse, and I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to read the context.
He reminded me of the relationship between Paul and the Philippian church. They were, in essence, his spiritual children.
As I read, I began to notice the instructions Paul was giving them in how they needed to live. I found myself thinking about the times when I would give my own kids a bunch of instructions in how to live. Sometimes they were an old-fashioned “Mom lecture” and other times they were late-night conversations about life.
But the thing that struck me most was that my focus was usually on the things I felt they needed to hear. In other words, I’d talk about things that they were struggling with.
So as I read Philippians, I began to realize that, if Paul felt they needed instruction on something, then it probably meant that at least some of them were struggling in that area. Let’s look at his admonishments.
Chapter 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 about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
So there’s a good chance they weren’t conducting themselves in a worthy manner, since Paul felt the need to tell them that they needed to do this. It also seems likely that they were allowing divisions among them, since he was encouraging them to come together in unity. Chapter 2:2 repeats the instruction: “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (Have you ever repeated yourself when admonishing your kids?)
Chapter 2:3-4 – “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Can we infer what problem was occuring?
Chapter 2:15 – “Do all things without complaining or arguments.”
I have to chuckle. Evidently the first century church struggled with complaining and arguing with each other, just like the 21st century church.
Chapter 3:1 – “Rejoice in the Lord.”
I’ve noticed in myself that if I allow myself to fall into complaining (see above), then I fall out of rejoicing. It’s nearly impossible to both complain and rejoice at the same time, so it’s understandable that Paul is admonishing them to stop doing one and start doing the other.
There are other admonishments, but why is all of this significant?
Because despite these problems, Paul says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it.”
In other words, I am not afraid for your future because of the problems that I see in your life. I know that God’s love for you and His power working in Your life are greater than the problems I see.
Paul understood what Jesus meant when He said on the cross, “It is finished!“
He also says in verses 3 & 4, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all.”
I thought again about my prayers for my loved ones, and I realized that too often they were led by fear of what their faults might lead.
I prayed with fear. Paul prayed with joy.
And the difference reflected where my confidence really was. If I was as confident as Paul was in God’s ability to finish what He had begun (and I could see that He had indeed begun to work in the life of my loved ones), then I would not be afraid!
And so I realized the choice that was suddenly before me. Going forward, was I going to put my confidence, like Paul, in God’s power and love and faithfulness and ability to finish what He started? Or was I going to continue to demonstrate that I had more confidence in the power of their faults and their sin?
It was like my merciful Savior opened my eyes to save me from what I had been guilty of. I was acting like I didn’t believe He was able!
Suddenly, it seemed ridiculous that the God of the universe might not be able to do something.
And from that moment, my prayers changed. I discovered that my prayer seemed to naturally shift so that it had a lot less begging God to do this or that and a lot more grateful praise for His promise to finish what He started. A lot more thankfulness that God not only knew how to finish what He started, but He also had the power and ability to do it!
May I encourage you? Those problems you see in your life or in the life of your loved ones… they are not greater than God!
He Is Able!
Look at your life. Look at their lives. Can you see God’s hand anywhere, working?
If so, then He’s going to finish what He began! Tell fear to be gone, and rest in the power of Your God! Be still and know that He is God! (Psalm 46:10)
And if you aren’t sure that you can see God’s hand, then ask Him to open your spiritual eyes so that you can see what He’s doing. It’s amazing!
He is faithful!