Now as we wrap this up and hopefully it has been beneficial and inspirational. We want to look at the third condition that Paul viewed as essential for True Christian Fellowship.
Paul said – “I Have You In My Prayers.” (vv.9-11). Paul discovered Joy in his memories and his growing love for his Philippian brothers and sisters. He also found Joy in remembering them in his prayers before the Throne of Grace.
Something that might be helpful to remember is the priest of the Old Testament wore a special garment. The Ephod was placed over his heart. On that Ephod were twelve stones with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel engraved. There was a special jewel for each of the tribes. (Exodus 28:15-29). The priest was to carry the people over his heart in love, and so did Paul. Perhaps the deepest fellowship we have is when we come before the Throne of Grace, praying with and for one another.
In Philippians 1:9-11 we find a prayer for maturity, and it begins with Love! That reveals that if our Love is what it should be and is genuine, everything else will follow in an orderly manner. Notice that Paul prays that they might experience abounding and discerning love. Christian love is never blind but always forgiving.
The ability to distinguish between good and evil is a mark of maturity. When a child learns to speak every four-legged animal may be a ‘bow-wow’ or something of that sort. But, as the child develops and matures it discovers that there are cats, dogs, cows, horses, pigs, etc. To a child, a car is a car, but not to a car-crazy teenager. One of the certain marks of maturity and development is discerning Love!
Paul prays that they might have mature Christian Character – “sincere and without offenses.” The word sincere means “tested by sunlight or to whirl in a sieve.” That is a picture of the winnowing process in which the chaff is removed from the wheat. The prayer is for the type of character that can pass the moral test of God’s Grace, Mercy, and Love.
Paul then prays that might have mature Christian Love as well as Character – “without offense till the day of Christ.” His prayer and teaching are that we live in such a manner as to not cause others to stumble. That we live our lives ready for the Judgment Seat of Christ when He returns.
Let me suggest two tests that we might use to evaluate ourselves. Will, what we do and say cause others to stumble? Will the way we live, speak, and act make us ashamed when we stand before Jesus? We can use those guidelines to help us do or not do what we plan.
Paul also prayed that they would have Mature Christian Service. He wanted them to be faithful. (v.11). He was not interested simply in Church attendance or activities but in the kind of spiritual fruit that is produced when we are in Fellowship with Jesus.
John 15:1-8 – “I AM the true vine, and my Father is the worker.2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he cuts out; and the one which bears fruit, he prunes so that it may bring forth more fruit.3 You have already been pruned because of the word which I have spoken to you.4 Remain with me and I with you. Just as a branch cannot give fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine; even so you cannot, unless you remain with me.5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains with me and I with him will bear abundant fruit; for without me you can do nothing.6 Unless a man remains with me, he will be cast outside, like a branch which is withered; which they pick up and throw into the fire to be burned.7 If you remain with me, and my words remain with you, whatever you ask shall be done for you.8 In this the Father will be glorified, that you bear abundant fruit, and be my disciples.”
Too frequently believers attempt to ‘produce results’ through their own efforts rather than abiding in Jesus and allowing His life to abide and produce the fruit. I feel compelled to ask, “What kind of fruit does God want to see in our lives?” There are many answers to that, but some that I would like to suggest are:
- Fruit of the Spirit – (Galatians 5:22-23)
- Evangelism Soul Winning – (Romans 1:13)
- Holiness – (Romans 6:22)
- Fruitful in Every Good Work – (Colossians 1:10)
- Praise – Fruit of the Lips – (Hebrews 13:15)
That is assuredly not an exhaustive list but comprehensive enough to give us targets to live for. The fruit tree does not make a lot of noise when it produces its crop, it simply allows the life within it to work in a natural and normal manner and fruit is the result. If we abide in Jesus and He abides in us, fruit is natural not a struggle.
There is a dynamic difference between spiritual fruit and human religious activity. Spiritual fruit brings glory to God!
Therefore, True Christian Fellowship is having in common a relationship that is much deeper than friendship. As Paul declared, “I have you in my Mind… my Heart… and my Prayers.” This is the kind of fellowship that produces the overflowing Joy that Jesus spoke of. It is this Joy that produces the singleness of mind that is required and desired.
What shall we do then? Let us put the Word of God into practice in our lives. Let us develop the mindset that enables us to take our circumstances and allow those conditions to bring us closer to the Lord Jesus Christ and our Christian brothers and sisters.
It is J.O.Y. Jesus, others, you. What a powerful way to spell and have Joy!
God bless you as you enjoy this beautiful day in Jesus!