What are you looking for?

Blog

Philippians 1:1-2: Slaves and Saints

  |   All, Devotions
Greeting
1_ Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
2_ Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Believe it or not, God has something beautiful for you to embrace in the greeting of this letter. Something that drips with Gospel truth. Something that will change and shape your life for years to come. If you let it.

 

Let’s start here. When you introduce yourself to people and/or greet them,  what is the first question out of their mouth? I’d be willing to bet it’s something like this,

 

“What do you do for a living?” Or “Are you married, do you have kids?”.

 

In our society, it’s normal for us to define each other by what we DO. And because of this, DOING becomes our identity. It becomes who we are. It becomes our title. For instance, you are not John, you are John the accountant, or John the teacher (or whatever title fits your specific line of work). But it doesn’t stop there.  After a bit of conversing you might be upgraded (or downgraded, depending on who you’re talking to) to John the husband and/or John the father.  Defining ourselves and others in this way attaches meaning to our lives (or so we think). It clues people into our purpose, our reason for existing. It’s where we derive our value and worth.

 

This can be, on the surface at least, empowering and helpful.  But what if we lived in reality? What if we didn’t get our dream job? Or what if we did get our dream job but suck at it? What if our marriage blows up, and what if our kids walk away from Jesus? And What iffff…….you get the picture.

 

Well then, we are destroyed. We are failures. We take on new titles and “identities” that are damaging and often times untrue, things like; worthless, stupid, dumb, etc. I mean, how can we even get to the coffee pot in the morning if we aren’t succeeding at BEING and DOING when the world defines us in such ways.

 

We can’t.

 

It’s that simple.

 

The weight of failure will crush us. We cannot define ourselves, or others, by what we do, or who we think we are based on the success of our “doing” (because that can change from moment to moment).  We must receive definition, that is, our identity from God alone. An Identity that is not earned, but given. Something that we cannot lose or ruin.

 

let’s look at our text (Philippians 1:1-2). Paul starts out by giving himself and Timothy a title jam-packed with meaning,  “servants of Christ Jesus”. And what does he call the recipients of his letter? Saints. Another huge title. Here Paul is calling to attention the reality that in Christ we inherit 2 primary Identities; slaves and saints. But what does that even mean?

 

Slaves

 

Here’s the reality, you are a slave to someone or something. The Bible makes this irrefutably clear. This is true for the Christian and the non-Christian alike. Those who are in Christ are freed to be slaves of Jesus. And those who reject Jesus are slaves to their sinful passions and desires.

 

To be a slave of Jesus is a joyous thing regardless of how it sounds. We are freed from bondage and given life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. To be a slave of Jesus is to be marked by his grace. But being a slave of Jesus also means that we are totally at the disposal of our Master (Jesus) and his people.

 

  • Do you rest in, and act out of your identity as a slave of Jesus?

 

Saints

 

Who do you think of when you hear the word saint? You probably think of people like Mother Teresa. Or maybe even one of the New Testament writers. To be a saint is to be holy. Like really holy. Maybe even perfectly holy. So why is Paul calling everyone on the other side of this letter a saint?

 

Peter T. O’Brien puts it like this:

 

“Christians are ‘saints’ because of the new relationship into which they have been brought by God ‘in Christ Jesus’… it is not because of their own doing or by works of the law but because of what Christ has done [for them]. They are set apart for him and his service; as the people of his own possession, they are the elect community of the end time whose lives are to be characterized by godly behavior” [1].

 

  • Do you believe that God sees the accomplishments of Jesus instead of your sin and failures?

 

Grace and Peace

 

Once we have taken hold of Christ’s work on our behalf, once we have embraced our new identity, we are ready to live in a new reality. Because of Jesus and his cross we are graciously brought into a peaceful relationship with God.

 

Prayer

 

Father God help me to rest in the identity that has been graciously extended to me in Jesus. Help me to live a life that is honoring to my master. But help me also, through the power of your spirit, to know that my inability to honor you as I ought will not separate me from a relationship with you. Thank you, Jesus, for standing in my place and extending to me your perfect track record. I ask all of this in Jesus’ good name.

 

Amen.

 


Peter Thomas O’Brien, The Epistle to the Philippians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991), 46.

AUTHOR - Brandon Scalf

Brandon Scalf is the founder and director of Dead Men. He is a preacher and teacher of God's word. He also holds an MTS from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.