Hey sweet friends! How was your weekend? All I can say is aahhhh! I got some sleep this weekend and am feeling refreshed and recharged. So, look out Bible study sisters, I’m rearing to go in today’s study!
As we approach today’s study, I couldn’t help but wonder how you did last week. We had a little word fest as we studied bondservants, bishops, deacons and saints. We paralleled our lives with those who were partners with a purpose. We parked on God’s providence and presence found in Philippians 1:6 and on Friday, we were challenged to love each other like Paul loved the church and to live life with no fear as we walk with God through this thing called life.
This week, we will walk through Philippians 1:15-30 together and see a little bit of the good, the bad and the bold along the way. Although I won’t be doing a vlog today, I’ll pop in and do one Wednesday.
In our text today, we will collide with Paul’s response to pretentious people and his own resolve in light of his circumstances. I want you to know before we even begin that this is a tough one for me. Begin our study by reading Philippians 1:15-20 (this link will provide our text in several versions for your study).
Some time ago a friend told me that there are two things she can’t stand – pretentious people and gum on her shoe. I have to admit, I can scrape the gum off my shoe, but pretentious people have a way of attaching themselves to the recesses of our hearts where they seem to enjoy digging into the scars they’ve left behind – so, I’d prefer the gum on my shoe, wouldn’t you?
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. They’re like an assorted box of chocolates. People who look all sweet on the outside, but when you take a bite, you find the inside isn’t what you expected and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
That’s the kind of people Paul was dealing with in Philippians 1:15-18. They were people who pretended they were on his side, yet their ultimate goal was to hurt him. Much worse than their heart to harm Paul was the malicious intent in which they delivered the gospel.
1. In Philippians 1:15, what were the two types of people proclaiming the gospel?
2. What was the intent of those who proclaimed Christ in verse 16?
3. According to verse 17, what was the motivation behind that group of believers who were preaching the gospel?
4. Describe Paul’s response in Philippians 1:18?
Paul was clearly undaunted by those who cleverly masqueraded as proclaimers of the gospel but were only mischief-makers in disguise. To be honest, Paul’s response to their malicious motives baffled me. How could Paul make light of something so critical? It didn’t make sense that Paul wasn’t incensed by their pretentious and corrupt conduct. They were telling people about Jesus but their hearts and lives didn’t match what was coming out of their lips.
It really did bother me that Paul wasn’t bothered. I know when I see people who say they love Jesus but really love to stir up trouble, hurt others, back bite, gossip and treat the name of Jesus flippantly, it makes me down right mad. I don’t really handle it well. We all mess up but when people are intentionally pretentious, it perturbs me.
As I studied Paul’s response a little more, I realized that it wasn’t that he wasn’t bothered by their pretentious behavior – it was that He was glad that the name of Jesus was being spread and that He trusted in the sovereignty of God to take care of those who were out to make trouble. He was well aware of the fact that God is perfectly capable of defending His own name. He also knew that there was no line they could cross that God did not see.
5. Read Romans 12:17-21 and paraphrase what Paul told the church in Rome.
6. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10. According to verses 3-4, what was Paul’s concern?
7. From verse 4-10, Paul describes some of the circumstances he faced. People who mocked him, disregarded him and maligned his character. How did he respond to those who mistreated him?
Paul’s face was set like a flint. It was all about Jesus, whether he was hurt in the process was completely unimportant to him. As long as Jesus was preached and he maintained his testimony – he didn’t care what people thought or said. He was undanted by their behavior and unashamed because he maintained his testimony. He also knew that God is big enough to protect His name and when He decided to take care of those who were insincerely preaching Christ, then He would do just that.
8. Do you handle pretentious people like Paul did or are you like me and still struggle with that kind of thing?
As we conclude today’s lesson, look at Philippians 1:19-20.
9. According to verse 19, what will lead to Paul’s deliverance?
10. From your reading in verse 20, list the three things Paul fully expected.
11. To what extent was Paul willing to go to glorify God?
Today’s verses are hard. They challenge me. I long to be like Paul and handle life’s injustices and pretentious people with the same measure of faith as he did. It’s the same faith he displayed when he said he would exalt Christ whether he lived or died.
Paul trusted in the sovereignty of God. The question is, do we?
Do you trust God to vindicate Himself among those who malign His precious name?
Do you trust God to vindicate you when others are bent on hurting your heart or casting a shadow on your character?
Do you rest in the sovereignty of God to bring to light that which others do in secret to cause harm to you or the name of Christ?
Are you willing for Christ to be exalted whether it be by your life or by your death?
Let’s face it, today’s study wasn’t for sissies. We examined some difficult stuff in the small segment of Scripture we studied. I want to be brave like Paul – I want to see the sovereignty of God before I ever open my mouth to respond to the pretentious people that drive me crazy. But I’m a work in progress – longing to be what I should – desperate to please my precious Savior.
Perhaps you’re somewhere between here and there too.
Sweet friend, I don’t know where you are in your walk with the Lord, but He is with us each step of the way – to strengthen us – to change us from glory to glory. And as we look into the mirror of the Word we get to see how much we look like Christ and how much we don’t. Today, I saw a lot of room for change. I noticed the reflection looked too much like me and not enough like Jesus – and I walk away from this lesson longing for more of Jesus and less of me.
What do you walk away from this lesson thinking?
I’d love for you to join our Bible study as we walk through Philippians. I can’t promise it will be easy – but I can promise that if you sincerely seek to know Him more and to know His Word more – you will be changed.
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