A Worthy Manor of Life

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27, ESV)

If you follow social media, then you have experienced both the positive and negative effects from these platforms. It is disheartening to read how professional golfers are using these channels to slander, promote selfish ambition, and behave in a foolish manner as of late. Phil Mickelson’s recent post thanking Tiger for his positive impact on golf is a rare gem in a sea of broken glass.

Regardless of what public status we have, as followers of Jesus Christ we are to “only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Not easy, and I fall short every day. Let’s take a look into what the apostle Paul was trying to express in his letter to the Philippians.

The Greek verb behind the phrase “manner of life” is politeuomai. It is where the word politics comes from, but not in the American sense of politics. If you put on your eastern cultural lens, you come to understand that there was no such thing as private life in the ancient world. Public life, where everyone knew about each other, was the norm.

The picture of politeuomai means to behave as a citizen, where your public behavior is lived in such a way that tells the story (through your life) that Jesus (the gospel of the kingdom of God), the risen Messiah, is King.

Writing from prison, Paul repeatedly encouraged the followers of Jesus to let their love grow in knowledge and discernment (Philippians 1:9), to speak without fear (Philippians 1:14), to stand firm in one spirit and mind (Philippians 1:27), to not act selfishly, but in humility (Philippians 2:3), and to look not only to his own interests but also lift up the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).

Does this mean we will reach perfect behavior? By no means. Are we to grow in self-awareness of how other people experience us? Yes. I hear Paul encouraging us to be actively maturing in our thoughts and actions every day. As fellow journeyers, we are to strive to be united. I don’t believe this means all followers of Jesus have to agree on every tenet of policy or ideas, but we are to be kind to one another. Unity does not mean conformity.

As you reflect today on letting “your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” first remember grace is real and needs to be offered to yourself and to others. And then ponder what might it mean in your little pocket of society to seek unity (not conformity), to allow differences to sharpen one another, and to politeuomai Jesus in your community.

Tracy Hanson
September 17, 2020
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