The Character of a Disciple: 3 Lessons from Philippians
Written by: Sarah Gagnon
A few days ago I sat and wrote down some goals for August, and I started to think about personal growth. By a worldly standard, I may not be what one would consider “successful”. I wasn’t an honour student in university, I don’t make a ton of money, I don’t have clout on social media, and many of the projects I started are still incomplete. But I know that when God looks at us, He views success and growth much differently. He looks at our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7) and values us simply because we are made in His image for His purpose (Psalm 57:2).
While reading through the book of Philippians, three passages stood out to me. Here are three lessons about the character of a disciple.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life.”
These verses tell us to do everything without grumbling or arguing so that we will be blameless and pure. How many times have you already complained today? When was the last time you had an argument with someone? Even on the best of days, we can find something to complain about. Instead of being thankful for the cool temperatures that come during a rainfall, we sigh at how dark and dreary it makes us feel. Instead of hearing someone’s perspective and putting ourselves in their shoes, we’re quick to come down on them with judgment, arguing that their perspective is wrong. But to be faultless children of God we must shine like stars and remember the example that Jesus set for us.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Worry is one of the biggest challenges for Christians today. During the pandemic I saw anxieties rise in brothers and sisters, almost as though we had forgotten that God was still in control. Our minds are powerful things, and it’s easy to let them carry us away as we look with uncertainty at the future. But this isn’t the way disciples are called to live. Whenever we are afraid about anything, God wants us to pray to Him and hand our worries over. He wants us to remember all the things we are grateful for and ask Him for anything we need. He wants us to acknowledge Him and all that He is able to do. By surrendering our fears to God, we receive His peace which goes beyond what any human being can understand. It may not make sense to be fearless during a pandemic, and as humans we will experience these strong emotions, but we must give those fears to God and not let our anxiety control our behaviours and decisions.
“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy– dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”
If any disciple wants to know how to be more like Jesus, this verse sums it up well. It is written that we should focus on things that are true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. Why? Because these are some of the wonderful qualities of our Lord. These things are worthy of praise because Jesus is the only one worthy of praise. He has taught us so much through His disciple, the apostle Paul, and as he writes to the Philippian church we can discover what Jesus expects from us.
So, as we keep walking forward in our faith, let us remember these three lessons from Philippians. May God continue to work in us so that we can reach His goal, “forgetting what is behind, and reaching forward to what is ahead.” (Phil 3:13)