“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.” — Philippians 1:27–28
Today we get a good reminder that how we live our lives matters. Paul told the Philippians to live a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ.” What is he trying to say?
We should work to show our love for Christ in all we say and do.
The people around us are not interested in our ability to explain our faith without getting tripped up on the hard questions or if we have read the entire Bible fifteen times and have memorized all the important verses. They are most interested in how we live our lives and if we truly show our faith in all the situations we face.
Most of the time, our testimony to others is more powerful in the way we live our lives rather than the words we use. People want to know that we are changed by knowing Jesus and that what we say is the truth.
Here’s a way to think about it. I believe that running is good for you. I’ve read about the great health benefits you can get from running: how it helps your heart, prevents cancer, lessens anxiety, and cures headaches. I believe everyone should do it. I might even go out and buy a “Just Do It” running T-shirt so everyone knows how I feel about running.
However, I haven’t gone for a run in many years. In fact, I barely get out and walk a few times a week even though I know it’s important for my health. I’m probably not the best advertisement for running because my actions don’t support my beliefs.
That’s what Paul is getting at. He wants us to live our lives in a way that we show others what Jesus really means to us and how our lives are different because of our faith. And he reminds us not to be frightened by those who disagree with our faith. As hard as it can be to share our faith, the story of Jesus is truth—and truth matters.
Joseph could have divorced Mary when he found out she was having a baby. But Mary explained that the baby was a part of God’s plan, and the Lord sent an angel to help Joseph understand she was telling the truth. But the truth about who Jesus was didn’t protect him from King Herod, who wanted to have Jesus killed. God’s angel protected him.
Mary and Joseph escaped to Egypt so Jesus would be safe. The truth about who Jesus was didn’t keep Jesus and his family away from difficulty. It actually made things harder for them as they had to escape. But God provided for their needs through the magi and protected their escape with an angel.
The truth Paul preached about Jesus didn’t change everyone around him, but Paul kept sharing his faith anyway.
Is it sometimes difficult to be strong in your faith during the holidays? Do you want to hide the truth when you think sharing your faith might be uncomfortable around certain friends, family members, or teammates? There will always be people who don’t agree with the true meaning of Christmas, those that might cause us to want to stay quiet. Mary and Joseph definitely understood that.
Paul’s answer for our Christmas is to live your life in such a way that points others to Jesus. Celebrate Christmas by standing firm in the truth. God and his angels know the trouble you may face and the fight that might be ahead. But Paul would urge you to stand firm in Christ before you stand firm for Christ, and then live a life so that others can see it. When you do this, those around you see the truth of Christmas displayed in your life, not only during this month but always.
Help us, Lord, to live a life that shows the truth of Christmas!