“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.”
As a mother of fourteen, I have come to fear silence. When I don’t know where my nine boys are, when they are oddly quiet in the middle of day – a warning light goes off in my brain. Either they are doing something they don’t want me to know about or they are planning to do something they don’t want me know about.
Extended periods of silence in this home have led to:
1. Trips to the hardware store to repair holes in walls.
2. The un-duct taping of my daughter.
3. Repairing multiple self-inflicted haircuts.
4. The loss of one pig tail.
5. Goats on the loose.
6. Completely emptied berry bushes.
7. A green cat who underwent a bad dye job.
I often tell people when I travel, “Show me a mother of nine boys and I will show you an intercessor.” They may have taken away my ability to nap in the afternoon, but they sure did increase my prayer life.
I think of this as I open my bible to the book of Philippians and begin this study. Paul, the writer of the letter, had not visited the church in Philippi, the receiver of the letter, for almost ten years. Ten years! Knowing what my boys are capable of doing in ten unsupervised minutes, I can only imagine what they would do with ten unsupervised years. This letter serves as a “check-in” from a spiritual Father and a reminder of all that he had taught them.
When he wrote this, Paul was imprisoned. Even if he wanted to visit Philippi and “yearned” to be with them, he couldn’t. His love for them and desire to be in their presence couldn’t change the fact that he was in chains. So he did what he could do. He wrote a letter.
Paul begins the letter with a declaration of his love and longing for the beloved church in Philippi. He then goes on to address his hopes for the church.
In chapter 1 verses 27 and 28, he writes:
“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, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.”
He repeats this sentiment in chapter 2 verses 12-13.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
· “Not only as in my presence but much more in my absence…”
It’s easy for my boys to follow my rules about haircuts and duct tape when I am present with them, it’s a whole different matter when I am not there.
Integrity is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the state of being complete and whole.” It is linked to words such as character, rightness, virtue, and honesty. When a man walks in integrity, he is the same person on Sunday as he is on Monday. Whether his pastor is present or absent – his character and convictions remain steadfast. Who he is at work matches who he is at home, at Friday night with the guys and at the altar on Sunday morning. His faith is authentic and honest, pure and resolute.
When you read scripture, it doesn't take long to discover that integrity matters to God. He values it enough to attach His promises to it. Walking in integrity leads to blessing, prosperity, and the lengthening of our days here on the earth. Yet, for many of us, integrity is something we discuss but not something we live. Like a chameleon changing colors as it adapts to its environment, we too often change who we are based upon WHERE we are and WHO we are with. We are one person in front of our pastor or spiritual leaders and another person entirely when we are in the comfort of our own homes, with our friends, or at work. It is easy to see a lack of integrity in others, but not as easy to accept that same lack of integrity in ourselves.
Today, allow God to work within you. Open your heart wide and invite the Holy Spirit to teach you, convict you, and reveal to you all that you need to see.
Are there areas in your life that lack integrity?
Are there choices you have been making in certain circles of friends or in the comfort of your own home that don’t honor him?
Who are you on the Mondays?