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Friday-Convinced

 

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

 

Philippians 1:25,26

 

In this world of instant everything, there are certain things that just take time. Yes, you can do some things that will make plants grow faster, paint dry faster, cook food faster. But it still takes time for bread to rise. Trees to bear fruit. An artist to create a masterpiece.

 

It also takes time to be convinced of anything. It doesn’t happen immediately or naturally. You don’t become convinced by sitting there alone. Paul’s conviction and confidence come from being with the Philippians. Living with and interacting with the people of Philippi.

 

Through this time and connection with them, Paul comes to a cement-like conviction. He’s not going to move from his support of them. Like concrete that’s had time to set and cure, it’s solid. It’s not going to easily break apart. It’s going to stay solid no matter what.

 

Becoming convinced is like kneading dough. When you start, the dry and wet ingredients are barely mixed. But then as you repeatedly press it all together with your hands, it begins to come together. The more you knead, the less you can see the individual wet and dry ingredients. Over time, the two become one.

 

You become convinced about people when you spend time with them. But there’s a secret sauce that you can add if you really want to become convinced about someone. And that secret sauce is to work with them. Do something together with them.

 

Some of my best friends, people that I’ve become convinced of, are the people that I’ve worked with. And the humbler and more lowly the task, the better. I count the people that I’ve washed dishes with among my closest friends. The people that I’ve swept floors with are the people I know that I can count on.

 

This is the kind of connection with and conviction about that Paul has with the Philippians. He’s so committed to them that he’s willing to put their benefit above his own. He’s ready to change his schedule to put them ahead of the thing that’s best for him.

 

And what’s the best thing for the Philippians? What’s the result that Paul wants more than anything else? What’s the highest possible end result? That the Philippians are boasting in Christ Jesus. We really don’t like this word boasting. To us, it smells of pride. When we think about someone boasting, our mind immediately goes to them putting everyone else down. The people that boast lift themselves up at the expense of other people. We don’t think about boasting as fair. It’s not treating everyone as equals.

 

And if the Philippians were boasting about themselves, we’d be right. But they aren’t looking at themselves at all. Their boasting, their focus, their joy is in Christ Jesus. He’s the reason that they can rejoice through their tough times.

 

Christ Jesus is the ball that surrounds them, giving them joy for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Christ Jesus is the one who overflows into all the blessings that they enjoy. It was his sacrifice on the cross that took them from being lost to being found. But it doesn’t stop there. Boasting in Jesus takes our energy and focus that was totally on ourselves and puts it on the outside. We move from worshiping ourselves to worshiping the one who gave everything for us. We change from only doing things for ourselves and becoming people that are focused on serving others.

 

When we boast in Christ, we can’t help but to start looking at how to help other people. Our natural self-centered life is changed by God’s life and power coming into us. Changing us. Empowering us.

 

Towards the end of A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is transformed by Christmas. He celebrates the birth of the Christ child, gives gifts, and repairs broken family relationships by asking their forgiveness. He then gives Bob Cratchit a raise and offers to help his family, especially Tiny Tim. After sending Bob out to rebuild the fire, Ebenezer says some very profound words.

 

“I don’t deserve to be so happy. I can’t help it. I just can’t help it.[1]

 

In a very small and simple way, this is what’s happened to Paul. It’s what’s happened to the Philippians. They would agree with Ebenezer’s words. They don’t deserve it. It’s all by God’s grace. Jesus did it all, and as they receive his loving kindness, they just can’t help themselves as they serve God, one another, and the community of people around them.

 

Doesn’t that sound great? Don’t we want the same thing? A sense of undeserving when we think about how good God has been. And an inability to stop being helpful and kind to others. How convinced are you of God’s grace and love for you? Are you so convinced that your life shows it through worship of God and service to people? Have you come to the point of not being able to help yourself?

 

Noodling Questions

 

  • Explain why it’s so easy or hard to convince you of something.

  • Describe a time when Jesus put you in a bubble and protected you.

  • How do you feel about being worthy for anything? Why?


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