Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ. – Philippians 1:27
The way we dress, the way we smile or scowl, the way we carry ourselves, the tone and content of our speech… Every day, we are always making statements to those around us about what really matters and what life truly consists of.
For Christians, such statements should be in harmony with the gospel.
So Paul called the Philippians to close the gap between their beliefs and their behavior—between the creed they professed and the conduct they displayed. Christ’s call to us today is no different. Even so, however mature we are in our faith and however much we close the gap, there always remains more to do.
Paul’s phrase “let your manner of life” comes from the Greek verb politeuesthe, which the NIV translates as “conduct yourselves.” The root of this word comes from polis, which means “city,” and gives us other words like police and politics. In a very real sense, Paul is concerned with Christian citizenship and conduct. As we understand ourselves to be members of the city of God, we learn what it means to live as strangers and ambassadors in that other city, the city of man. When we close the gap between belief and behavior, others will get a foretaste of heaven through their interactions with us.
So what kind of statement should our actions make? Simply this: the gospel of Christ is a gospel of love. We see this in the words of John: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11). In other words, just as God loves us, so we should love those around us—even those whom we, or others, tend to see as unlovely or unlovable—and we should do it with hope and joy! This message of love is the challenge that Paul gives us.
Not merely in the words you say,
Not only in the deeds confessed,
But in the most unconscious way
Is Christ expressed.
Attributed to Beatrice Cleland, “Indwelt,” in, for instance, Our Aim: A Monthly Record of the Aborigines Inland Mission of Australia 68, no. 7 (17 March, 1955), p 1.
So, pause to think about how you will dress today, when you will smile and when you will scowl today, how you will carry yourself today, and the tone and content of your speech today. What kind of statements are you making to the world? Let them be ones that are worthy of the gospel of love.
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