I believe in checklists. Actually, I believe in lists, period. They help me keep focused on completing projects, and they keep me from forgetting important details.
In Philippians 2, we have a checklist of a different sort—qualities of a productive Christian servant. The first several verses of this chapter describe a servant leader as they reveal the mind of Christ and His humility.
But then Paul turns a corner and gives a series of personal admonishments. In these verses, we see five characteristics of a Christian servant:
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.—Philippians 2:12
As spiritual leaders, isn’t this the verse that we pray for our children, Sunday school classes, church families—those we lead in any area? We desire that their Christian walk would be consistent at all times.
Our own walk should also be consistent! There shouldn’t be a duplicity in who we are “on the job” compared to who we are when we are with our families or alone with our thoughts.
There should be unquestionable, predictable constants in our lives that include integrity, graciousness, humility, and faithfulness.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.—Philippians 2:13
We tend to put a great deal of emphasis on what we do, but this verse reminds us that it starts in what we will. To be who God wants us to be, we must surrender our wills to Him and allow Him to shape our desires.
3. Right Spirit
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:—Philippians 2:14
When we find ourselves murmuring about everything and disputing with everyone, we can be sure that our circumstances and our co-laborers are not the problem. It is our heart that needs to be adjusted. Generally, a riled spirit is a sign of an unyielded heart. When I find my spirit is agitated, I do well to remember Philippians 2:13 and yield to the Lord to make me willing for a changed heart.
4. Godly Testimony
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;—Philippians 2:15
Do we not live in a crooked and perverse nation? Then we have all the more reason to shine with untainted lights.
Blameless is an interesting and important word. It means unsubstantiated. People can say anything they want to tarnish our character and cast aspiration on our motives—and they do! But it is our responsibility to see that none of it is true.
5. Witness for Christ
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.—Philippians 2:16
Paul’s epistles are rich in athletic metaphors. The picture in this verse is of a runner extending his lit torch while finishing his race. We can’t control the darkness around us, but we can keep holding forth the word of life—we can continue to preach the gospel and invest our lives in eternity.
I look forward to “the day of Christ,” and it is my heart’s desire that I will have run faithfully and labored fruitfully until that day. These verses from Philippians 2 challenge me to look past my to do lists and run with a quality of heart that brings honor to the Lord.