This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.
I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the elders and deacons.
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
For many people living in the United States if you asked them; “Who are you?”, they would tell you that they are an American, that they are from a certain state, that they do a certain job, that they play a certain instrument or play a certain sport, that they are in certain relationship, or practice a certain religion. These are the type of things that we usually use to define our identity.
There is nothing immoral about having these things as part of our identity, but for us who follow Jesus they do not tell the full story. In order to faithfully follow Jesus we need to understand who we are. Knowing our identity helps us understand the role that we are to play in God’s Kingdom.
I attended Nebraska Christian College. During my time there I was part of the basketball team, and each year, before the season began, Coach Lahm talked to us about our role on the team. He understood for unity to exist on the team and for the team to live up to its potential then the individual players needed to know and accept the role they had on the team. In other words, they needed to know their identity.
In a similar way the Apostle Paul began his letter to the church in Philippi by reminding them of who they are in God’s Kingdom. This is crucial because life makes us forget our true identity. Satan uses the circumstances of life to get us to doubt God’s promise and the salvation that is being completed in our lives. For our church families to live up to their potential and for unity to exist in them requires us to remember the truth about our who we are.
In these opening verses of Philippians we discover that:
- We are servants. Paul began by identifying himself and his companion Timothy as slaves of Jesus Christ. This means that the mission Paul was on was not his mission, but it was the mission Jesus gave to him. He belonged to Jesus and needed to do what Christ asked him to do. Jumping to the next sentence Paul identifies the Philippians as people who belong to Jesus. Just like Paul, their lives were not their own, rather they were under the leadership and direction of their Lord. That same thought applies to us. We have been bought at a price, and that means our lives are no longer our own. We are under the obligation to serve Jesus, the one who has rescued us from sin and death. We are called to serve Jesus, to go where he sends us.
- We are saints. Paul said he was writing to the God’s holy people in Philippi, that is what it means to be a saint. In the language of the Bible a saint is someone who is part of God’s covenant people. The Philippians were holy because God had made a covenant with them through Jesus Christ. You and I are saints because God has declared that we are holy (Colossians 1:22) because of Jesus. Our sainthood has nothing to do with our holy behavior, and has everything to do with the reality that God has set Christians apart because of their faith in Jesus.
- We are supplied. Paul prayed that God would bless the Philippians with grace and peace. In order to be servants and saints the Philippians needed to be supplied with the ability to live out their identity. They did not have the wisdom, the power, the faith, or the love to truly be God’s holy people. The only way they could live out their identity is if God provided for their needs. The same is true for us. The only way we can love, serve, and forgive is if God provides us with the ability to do those things. Since we are God’s representatives here on earth, we know that God will give us what we need to accomplish the task that he has given to us, because He wants us to succeed.
As Christians our true identity is more than what we do or what we know. Our identity is built on Jesus. When our faith is in Jesus then God gives us a new identity. We are servants and saints who are generously supplied by God. This knowledge is crucial as we find our place in God’s Kingdom.
Questions to consider:
- When you think about who you are what is the first thing that comes to mind?
- Do you identify more with being a servant or being a saint? Why do you feel that way?
- How has God supplied for your needs in the past?
Outline from Sermon Seeds.