Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Philippian saints. More specifically today’s passage is found in the fourth and final chapter of this New Testament book. “Therefore, my beloved and longed for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved” (Philippians 4:1).
“I implore Eudora and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the pace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:2-7).
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content; I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet smelling aroma an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:10-20).
“Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.A lol the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Philippians 4:21-23).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul bringing to an end and concluding the epistle written unto the Philippian saints. Before I delve into the words which are found in the fourth chapter I am convinced there is a great need to take a step back and begin with the final verses of the second chapter of this epistle. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the final verses of the second chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul writing about two of his companions and fellow-laborers in the work and gospel of the kingdom. If you turn and direct your attention to the words presented in the second chapter beginning with the nineteenth verse you will find the apostle Paul writing and speaking about Timothy and Epaphroditus. Timothy is of course a fellow laborer and companion of the apostle Paul whom we learn about in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. We know from the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts that Timothy was the son of a woman who was a Jew but whose father was a Greek. Moreover we know that Timothy was a disciple who was well spoken of by the disciples and brethren who were in Lystra, Derbe and Iconium. When the apostle Paul encountered this disciple—and not only this disciple but also the report concerning him among the brethren—the apostle Paul purposed and determined to have him accompany him on his second apostolic and missionary journey. It would be Timothy who would be one of those who would accompany the apostle Paul in Phrygia and the region of Galatia. It would be Timothy who would accompany the apostle Paul in Troas and was with the apostle Paul when a vision appeared to the apostle in the night.
In the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Paul being forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. Moreover it is in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Paul and his companions trying to go into Bithynia but the Holy Spirit would not permit them As a direct result of this the apostle Paul and his companions would pass by Mysia and would come down to Troas. It would be there in Troas the apostle Paul would receive a vision which would appear and come unto him in the night. In this vision a man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Luke writes and records how after the apostle Paul had seen the vision he immediately sought to go to Macedonia concluding that the Lord had called them to preach the gospel to them. This is important to note for when we come to the eleventh verse of the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Paul, Timothy, Silas and the others who accompanied them sailing from Troas and coming to Samothrace and coming unto Neapolis before ultimately coming unto Philippi. Philippi was the foremost city of that part of Macedonia and was a colony where the apostle Paul and his companions stayed for a certain among of days. On the sabbath day the apostle Paul and his companions went out of the city to the riverside where prayer was customarily made and sat down and spoke to the women who met there. One of the women who met there among the others was a certain woman named Lydia who heard them and was a seller of purpose from the city of Thyatria. Luke writes concerning this woman that she worshipped God and how the LORD opened her heart to heed the things which were spoken by the apostle Paul. What’s more is Luke goes on to write how when she and her household were baptized she entreated them, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” Ultimately Lydia would persuade and convince them to enter into her own home and abide with her a certain amount of days while they were in Philippi.
As you continue reading the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the narrative and account of the apostle Paul and Silas there in the midst of the city of Philippi. Luke goes on to write that as the apostle Paul and his companions went to prayer that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met them as they preached. This slave girl who was possessed by an evil spirit brought her masters much profit by fortune telling and would follow the apostle Paul and his companions crying out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God who proclaim the way of salvation unto them.” Luke goes on to write and record how she did this for many days until the apostle Paul would become annoyed beyond measure. In response to the great annoyance found within the apostle Paul he turned to this slave girl and spoke unto the spirit commanding it to come out of her in the name of Jesus Christ. Immediately that very same hour the unclean spirit came out of her and she was entirely and altogether delivered and set free. Because of this, however, the masters of this slave girl saw that their hope of profit was gone and they proceeded to seize Paul and Silas as they dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. There in the marketplace the masters of this slave girl brought Paul and Silas unto the magistrates and accused them, saying, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” As a direct result of this the multitude rose up together against them and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. After many stripes had been laid on them Paul and Silas were thrown into prison and the jailer was commanded to keep them securely. Having received such a charge the jailer put Paul and Silas into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
I am absolutely convinced there is a great need for us to recognize and remember that which took place within this passage of Scripture for within it we find the apostle Paul and Silas not only being beaten but also imprisoned. Moreover we find them secured in the inner prison and their feet fastened in the stocks throughout the night. I can’t imagine what it was like for the apostle Paul and Silas that night there in the prison as they were secured in the inner prison with their feet being fastened in the stocks. I can’t imagine that their physical position was at all comfortable that night as they might very well have been in a position where they were forced to either remain sitting up the whole night or might very well have found themselves able to lay down. What we do know is that regardless of whether or not Paul and Silas were comfortable there in the prison they would pray and sing hymns to God there in the midst of the prison. Luke writes and records how as Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God the prisoners there in the midst of the prison were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. The keeper of the prison awoke from sleep and seeing the prison doors open supposed the prisoners had fled and drew his sword and was about to kill himself. The apostle Paul would see that which the keeper of the prison was about to do and called with a loud voice entreating him to do himself no harm for they were all there. The keeper of the prison called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas and upon bringing them out asked them what he must do to be saved.
It is important for us to recognize and understand the words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Paul and Silas would respond to the keeper of the jail instructing him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and he would be saved—both he and his household. The apostle Paul and Silas would speak the word of the Lord to him and to all those who were in his house. That very same hour during the night the keeper of the prison took them and washed their stripes and immediately both he and his family were all baptized. When he brought them into his own house he set food before them and rejoiced having believed in God with all his household. This is necessary for us to recognize and understand for this would now be the second individual together with their household who would not only believe on the Lord Jesus Christ but would also together with their household be baptized. Scripture is not clear how many members were in the household of Lydia nor how many were in the household of the keeper of the prison, however, I would venture to say that these individuals and these households were among the early members of the church that was established here in the midst of Philippi. I would love to know precisely how many members of each of these households believed and were baptized together with Lydia and the keeper of the prison, however, we know for certain that they all believed on the Lord Jesus and were baptized. What’s more is that both the keeper of the jail as well as Lydia invited the apostle Paul into their own home as one of the most profound marks of believing on the Lord Jesus is indeed hospitality. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for if you want to truly understand one of the most powerful and profound marks of discipleship and believing on the Lord Jesus you must recognize that it was that of hospitality.
This concept of hospitality is something which I would dare say was referenced in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi. You cannot read the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi and not encounter and come face to face with the apostle Paul writing concerning this hospitality. Although the apostle Paul might not have written and spoken of it in terms of hospitality and using that specific word we find the apostle Paul writing and speaking unto these saints concerning how they were to conduct themselves as saints and those who believed on and called upon the name of the Lord. In the first and opening chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul emphatically declared unto these saints how he thanked God upon every remembrance of them always in every prayer of his making request for them with all joy. The apostle Paul would remember their fellowship in the gospel from the first day until the time of the writing of that epistle and was confident of this very thing—that He who began a good work in them would complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul would then reference his current situation as at the time of the writing of this epistle he would once more find himself in prison and confined to chains. The apostle Paul would write and declare unto them how it was right for him to think this of them all because he had them in his heart inasmuch as both in his chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel they were all partakers with him of grace. The apostle Paul would then write how as God as his witness he greatly longed for all them with the affection of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul would go on to write unto them how he prayed for them that their love might abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment that they might approve the things which are excellent that they may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. This is something which warrants strong consideration for if you want to truly understand one of the great marks of being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ you must needs acknowledge that hospitality is indeed such a mark. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we think and speak about being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ one of the marks of that discipleship is inviting others into one’s own home. This is something we witness and behold within and throughout the gospels as Jesus who was the Word made flesh walked and dwelt among us in the earth. Time and time again throughout the gospels you will find certain individuals inviting Jesus and His disciples into their homes. Individuals such as the apostle Matthew, Zacchaeus, Mary and Martha and even Simon Peter together with his wife and mother in law would invite Jesus and the disciples into their homes. We must needs acknowledge and understand this particular reality for it calls and draws us into the place where we recognize that Jesus—when speaking unto the church of Laodicea in the prophetic book of the Revelation—declared unto them how He stood the door and knocked. Moreover Jesus would go on to declare that he who heard His voice and knocking and opened the door unto Him and invited Him in would experience the fellowship of the Father and the Son. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is for when we think of hospitality we must recognize that it not only begins with our inviting the Lord Jesus into our homes—and not our homes alone but also our hearts—but also inviting His disciples and those who walked with and followed Him into our homes.
Concerning this reality of hospitality—not only as it pertains to and touches the Lord Jesus Christ but also His disciples and those who walk with and follow Him—I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to the words which are found in the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. In addition to this I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to the different references within the four gospels when Jesus was indeed invited into the houses and homes of those who desired Him to enter in and abide with them. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when we think about this reality and concept of hospitality we must needs recognize and understand that it first begins with the opening of our hearts and our homes unto the person of Jesus Christ and then extends to the opening of our hearts and homes unto the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ—those who walk with, worship and follow the living and eternal God. With this being said I now invite you to consider the following words which are found in the above mentioned passages of Scripture beginning with the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, I have become whale thy, and have need of nothing—and do not know that you are wretched, poor, blind and naked—I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you. May be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me. To Him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:14-22).
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothed you? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you? And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me. Then He will also say to those on the left hand, Depart from me, you curse, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food: I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take me in, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. Then they also will answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? Then He will answer them, saying, Assuredly, I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46).
In the letter written unto the church which was in Laodicea we find Jesus emphatically declaring unto them that he stood at the door and knocked. Moreover Jesus would go on to declare that if anyone hears His voice and opens the door He would come in to him and dine with him and he with Him. This is something we must needs recognize when reading the words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew for within this passage of Scripture we don’t necessarily find Jesus speaking of His standing at the door and knocking, however, what we do find is Jesus speaking of Himself as being directly linked and connected to the least of these. Within this passage of Scripture we find Jesus speaking of His being hungry and the righteous giving Him food. Jesus would speak of how He was thirsty and the righteous gave Him something to drink. Jesus spoke of His being a stranger and they took Him in and how He was made and they clothed Him. Not only this but Jesus would speak of how He was sick and they visited Him and He was in prison and they came to Him. With this being said we must needs recognize that there is only one fundamental difference between the two groups of people who were mentioned in this particular passage of Scripture—namely the response of Christ as manifested and expressed unto the least of these. If there is one thing we must needs understand concerning the words which are found in this passage of scripture it’s that at the very heart and center of these words is the hospitality of the righteous and the inhospitality of the wicked. What we must needs recognize when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture is that the only difference between these two groups of people is whether or not they were hospitable unto the Lord Jesus who was manifested among and within the least of these.
This is something we must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to whether or not we are such who show and display hospitality unto those who are in need. What’s more is we as the saints of God must needs recognize and understand whether or not we are indeed filled with the compassion and affection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am absolutely convinced that one of the greatest marks of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and being one of His disciples and followers is that of our hearts being enlarged and the giving of ourselves to compassion and affection unto others. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we think about being disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we must recognize that at the very heart and center of it is indeed hospitality as we give ourselves unto the compassion and affection of Christ toward the saints. It would be the apostle Paul who would write in one of the epistles unto the Corinthian saints of those who addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints and we must needs ask ourselves whether or not we have the same heart and spirit within us—namely whether or not we are and whether or not we have addicted ourselves to the ministry of the saints. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the compassion and affection that is or isn’t present within our hearts. It is when you read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you will find Luke writing of the hospitality of the early church and how they gave themselves to ministry unto each other. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the words found in these passages of Scripture we are brought face to face with the hospitality of the early church and how the single greatest work of the Spirit was fellowship which could only be produced by Him. One of the greatest works of the Holy Spirit is indeed taking and bringing men and women—despite their differences—into fellowship, community and unity with each other and allowing them demonstrate the kindness, the compassion and the affection of Christ unto one another. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts as well as the references which are found in the four gospels concerning those who opened their homes unto Jesus and his disciples:
“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and braking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:40-47).
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement) a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:323-37).
“After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, Follow me. So he left all, rose up, and followed Him. Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? Jesus answered and said to them, Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:27-32).
“Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them. When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:14-17).
“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house; Nd she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, Lord, do you n to care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me. And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).
“Then Jesus w entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesu came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, Zacchaeus , make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house. So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner. Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, Look, Lord I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold. And Jesus said to him, Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” Luke 19:1-10).
Consider this in light of the account of Simon a Pharisee who also invited Jesus into his home and made a great feast. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand is that although it is indeed possible to invite Jesus into our homes and even prepare a great feast before Him we can be those who refuse to show and demonstrate any type of compassion, kindness and affection. Simon was a Pharisee who invited the Lord Jesus into his own house and prepared a great feast for those who were present and yet Luke records how a woman from the city who was a sinner would enter into the house and demonstrate the kindness and affection of one whose life has been touched and transformed by the power of the Lord Jesus unto Him. There is something truly astonishing and powerful about the words which we find within the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke for within it we not only find a strong contrast between this woman from the city who was a sinner and Simon the Pharisee whose house it was and who invited Jesus in but also a contrast between Simon the Pharisee and those who invited Jesus into their homes. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus written by Luke beginning with the thirty-sixth verse:
“Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And he went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner. And Jesus answered and said to him, Simon, I have something to say to you. So he said, Teacher, say it. There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denari and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to pay, he freely forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him more? Simon answered and said, I supposed the one whom he forgave more. And he said to him, You have rightly judged. Then he turned to the woman and said it Simon, Do you see this woman? I entered your house; and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss my feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil, but this woman has anointed my feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you’re her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little. Then He said to her, Your sins are forgiven. And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, Who is this who even forgives sins? Then He said to the woman, Your faith has saved your Go in peace” (Luke 7:36-50).
It is incredibly interesting to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for although Simon who was a Pharisee and someone who was religious by practice and occupation was contrasted with others in the gospels who opened their homes unto Jesus. What’s more is that not only was he contrasted with others who opened their homes unto Jesus and His disciples in the gospels but he was also was who was contrasted with the woman from the city who was a sinner who dared enter into his house. Undoubtedly this woman wouldn’t have been invited into the house Simon the Pharisee for he knew and was aware of her reputation. The thoughts he had within himself suggests that he not only know of this woman but also knew her reputation that she was a sinner. What we find in this passage of Scripture, however, is that although Simon opined his home and invited Jesus in he would proceed to cast judgment against and upon this woman from the city who was a sinner. Despite the fact this woman came in humility to lavish her worship upon Jesus Simon would proceed to accuse and judge her within the thoughts of his heart and mind. Not only this but what we find in this passage of Scripture is the inhospitality of Simon toward Jesus—this despite the fact that he opened his home unto Him and invited Him in. Although Simon had opened his home and invited Jesus into it he would display no kindness, no compassion nor any hospitality toward Jesus. In fact this is what Jesus contrasted with the woman for Jesus would declare unto Simon that although He entered into his house he gave Him no water for His feet, he gave him no kiss which was customary during those days, and he did not anoint His head with oil. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for although Simon invited Jesus into his own home he would not show or display any kindness, any compassion nor any hospitality toward Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something truly powerful within this passage of Scripture—namely that Simon displayed no hospitality toward Jesus even though he had personally opened his home unto Him and had invited Him in.
This brings me back to the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi for in the second chapter you find the apostle Paul beginning by appealing to any consolation in Christ, any comfort of love and any fellowship of the Spirit. Moreover the apostle Paul would also appear to any affection and mercy and would entreat them to fulfil his joy. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this—particularly that which is spoken of concerning the fellowship of the Spirit—for I am convinced that the type of fellowship the Church has indeed been called into and unto is one that cannot be produced nor manufactured by any work of the flesh nor by any individual member of the body of Christ. When we think and speak of this fellowship of the Spirit we must needs understand and recognize that this fellowship is such that can only be produced by the Holy Spirit and cannot be produced by any man—regardless of position, title and even role within the church and body of Christ. There is something we must needs understand concerning this fellowship for when we think about it we must acknowledge that this fellowship is such that can only be produced and brought about by the Holy Spirit. What’s more is that when we think of the work and person of the Holy Spirit we must needs recognize that it is the Spirit who produces this fellowship among the members of the body of Christ as well as produces this hospitality within our hearts as we give ourselves to the showing and demonstrating the compassion, the kindness, the affection and hospitality of Jesus toward others.
Upon reading the words which are found in this passage of scripture you will find the apostle Paul writing concerning the fellowship of the Spirit but also appealing to affection and mercy—something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of. I am sitting here today thinking about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the incredible need for our hearts to not only be opened but also our hearts to be enlarged toward the members of the spiritual body of Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something truly unique and powerful about a heart that is both opened and enlarged toward others. There is something to be said about members of the spiritual body of Christ who are indeed kind, compassionate, merciful and even hospitable toward others. If we want to truly have a discussion about the spiritual body of Christ we must needs recognize and understand that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who give ourselves to hospitality, to kindness, to compassion and to mercy unto others. The apostle Paul would write unto the Philippian saints and would appeal to the fellowship of the Spirit, the comfort of love, the consolation of Christ and even affection of mercy while entreating them to be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord and being of one mind. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this truly is for it brings us face to face with that which we have indeed and have in fact been called to in this life. We as the saints of God have indeed been called to be those who open our hearts and our homes unto others. There is something truly unique and powerful about those who are willing to open their homes unto others as a direct result of their hearts being opened and enlarged within them. What’s more is that we must needs understand that it is only to the degree and measure we open our hearts that we are truly willing and ready to open our homes unto others. More often than not an open and an enlarged heart results in the opening of one’s home unto others as they seek to display unto them the kindness, the compassion, the mercy and the love of Christ toward others.
With this being said I am reminded of an account and narrative found in the Old Testament concerning David after he had become king of the nation and people of Israel. Within the Old Testament we find David seeking and searching out any member of the house of Saul that he might show and display kindness to for the sake of Jonathan who was like a brother unto him. It would be because of the relationship and bond David and Jonathan had he desired to show compassion, grace, mercy, affection and love toward any member of the house of Saul who might have remained after the house was destroyed from upon the earth. As it would turn out there would be a member of the house of Saul left—a son who was born unto Jonathan whose named was Mephibosheth who lived and dwelt in the city of Lo-Debar. Scripture reveals how this son of Jonathan was lame in both feet because of an accident that happened earlier on during his life when his nurse would take him and flee seeking to spare and save his life. As they were fleeing during those days he would fall and as a result would become crippled in both feet. For the rest of his he would suffer with being lame in both feet and would live in the midst of the city called Lo-Debar which was a city and place where there were others who were lame, crippled, maimed and the like. Eventually, however, there would come a day when the king of Israel would call for and bring him unto himself that he might show the kindness, the grace and the affection of the LORD to him. What ultimately ends up happening is David invites this son of Jonathan into his own home and gives him a place at his own table with his sons and daughters. Stop and consider how this son of Jonathan would go from being a cripple in Lo-Debar to sitting at the king’s table in the king’s house together with the king’s sons and daughters:
“Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth” (2 Samuel 4:4).
“Now David said, is there still any tone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him. Kindness for Jonathan’s sake? And there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba. So when they had called him to David, the king said to him, Are you Ziba? He said, At your service. Then the king said, Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God? And Ziba said to the king, There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet. So the king said to him, Where is he? And Ziba said to the king, Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar. Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar. Now when Mephibosheth the son of Johnathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Here is your servant. So David said to him, Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather, and you shall eat bread at my table continually. Then he bowed himself, and said, What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I? And the king called of Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, I have given to your master’s son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You therefore and your sons and your servants shall work the land for him, and you shall bring in the harvest, that your master’s son may have food to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s son shall eat beard at my table always. Now Ziaba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, According to all that my lord the king has commanded his servant, so will your servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king, He shall eat at my table like one of the king’s sons. Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Micha. And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants of Mephibosheth. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet” (2 Samuel 9:1-13).
There is something incredibly unique and captivating about the words presented in this passage of Scripture for within it we find David who was now the king of the nation, the kingdom and the people of Israel who held no obligation nor responsibility to the house of Saul. Despite the fact that Saul not only sought to kill him by hurling spears at him on two separate occasions and despite the fact that Saul pursued him throughout the land of Israel seeking to end his life David still desired to see if there was anyone left of the house of Saul whom he might show kindness for the sake of Jonathan. What makes this all the more captivating when you take the time to think about it is that the kindness that is spoken of in this passage of Scripture was not David’s own kindness—a kindness that was produced and conjured up within his own heart and soul. The kindness which is spoken of in this passage of Scripture is indeed references as “the kindness of God”—a kindness that can only be produced and come from the heart of the living God Himself. What makes this even more intriguing and valuable is when you consider the fact that David was referred to as a man after God’s own heart and that although man looked at the outward appearance God looked at the heart. This is important for us to recognize and pay attention to for it brings us face to face with the fact that David—as a man after God’s own heart—was one who understood the heart and mind of the living God. David was one who understood the kindness of God, the compassion of God, the mercy of God, the love of God and even the faithfulness of God toward him. From the time he was anointed by Samuel in the presence of his brethren in Bethlehem until the time he would become king of the nation and people of Israel David would understand the kindness of God toward him as it was only the kindness, the grace and the mercy of God that preserved him all those years on the run—thirteen years in total until he was anointed king.
I absolutely love the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and how they are directly connected to that which we find in the epistle written by the apostle Paul. It is in the opening verses of the second chapter of this epistle we find the apostle Paul writing and speaking about the consolation in Christ, the comfort that is found in love, the fellowship of the Spirit and affection and mercy. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding our need as those who are called by the name of the living God and those who call upon and believe on the name of Jesus to be such who display the kindness of the living God toward others. At the very heart of this “fellowship of the Spirit” is indeed affection and mercy as the truest and greatest way to demonstration this fellowship produced by the Spirit and produced in the Spirit is through affection and mercy. What’s more is that intrinsically linked to this fellowship is the saints of God being like minded, having the same love, being of one accord and being of one mind. It is absolutely impossible to speak of the fellowship of the Spirit without and apart from understanding the need for the saints of God to be like-minded, to be of one accord and to be of one mind. Moreover there is a great need for us to recognize that the fellowship of the Spirit—that fellowship which is produced in and by the Spirit—is the foundation for our living and conducting ourselves selflessly and sacrificially. The apostle Paul admonished and encouraged these saints to let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind as they each esteemed others better than themselves. This is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of the fellowship of the Spirit for unless the Spirit supplies you with the grace to esteem others better than yourself it is virtually impossible to do so. Try and try as you may within your own flesh you cannot truly esteem others as better than yourself without and apart from the work, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit.
The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am captivated by the example that was left for and provided unto us by the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Within this same chapter we find the apostle Paul admonishing these saints to let the same mind which was also in Christ Jesus be in and established within them. The apostle Paul then goes on to describe how Christ Jesus—who although He was in the form of God—did not consider it robbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a bondservants and coming in the likeness of men. Moreover Christ Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death—even the death of the cross. As a direct result of His humility and obedience to the will of the Father God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow—of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth—and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ Lord. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for through the person of Christ Jesus we have the example of how we are to conduct ourselves and how we are to pattern our lives after the example of Christ. We as the saints of God must needs be those who understand that we have been given the example that is found in the person of Jesus Christ and have as the saints of God been called to not only understand His example but also follow that example. We as the saints of God must needs acknowledge and understand that we have indeed and have in fact been called to understand the pattern and example that is found in the person of Jesus Christ and to go and do likewise within our own hearts and lives. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding Christ who humbled Himself and took upon Himself the form and shape of a man that he might accomplish in the flesh the heart, the mind and the will of the living God. This is something we dare not and must not miss for it brings us face to face with the incredibly awesome truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and our need to be such who not only walk with and follow Him but also walk in His footsteps and in His example which was left for us.
If you continue reading the words which are found in this epistle you will find the apostle Paul seeking and desiring to send Timothy unto the Philippian saints shortly that he might be encouraged when he learns their state. What’s more is the apostle Paul goes on to describe how he had no one like-minded who would sincerely care for their state as Timothy himself would. The apostle Paul goes on to declare how all sought their own and not the things which are of Christ Jesus but as it pertains to Timothy—they all know his proven character and how he as a son with his father served with him in the gospel. Stop and consider the words which are found here in this passage of Scripture for not only did the apostle Paul speak of Timothy as being sincere and sincerely caring for their state but he would also contrast Timothy to others who sought their own and not the things which are of Christ Jesus. As it pertains to Timothy, however, they were aware of his proven character and that he as a son with his father served with him in the gospel. Please don’t miss the words the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Paul declared of Timothy that he sought the things which were of Christ Jesus and was such whose character was not only proven but also known. Notice within this passage of Scripture that when speaking of the character of Timothy the apostle Paul not only described it as known among and unto the Philippian saints but also how that character was proven among them and among the churches throughout the region during those days. How incredibly powerful it is to think about and consider the fact that Timothy was such who was not only spoken of among the brethren in Lystra, Derbe and Iconium but the apostle Paul also referenced his character and that his character was not only proven but also known among the saints which were at Philippi.
Within this epistle the apostle Paul didn’t merely speak of Timothy alone for he also spoke of Epaphroditus. Concerning this dear saint the apostle Paul spoke of him as being his brother, his fellow worker and fellow soldier but who was their messenger and the one who ministered to his need. Please pay close and careful attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding this saint of God whom the apostle Paul commended for his faithfulness in service. FAITHFULNESS IN SERVICE! Perhaps one of the greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we as the saints of God can in fact and are in fact considered to be faithful in our service unto the Lord—and not only in our service unto the Lord but also our service together with others. The apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian saints that Epaphroditus was his brother, his fellow worker and his fellow soldier in the work of the gospel and in the work of the ministry of the kingdom. This is something which warrants strong consideration for it directly challenges and confronts us within our own lives and how we conduct ourselves in the sight and presence of the living God. Can it be said of us that we are brothers, fellow workers and fellow soldiers in the work of the ministry and those who will stand alongside of and fight together with others? There is something to be said about those who will not only labor alongside and with others but also those who will stand beside and fight alongside the saints of God in battle. Can it be said of you that you yourself are one who not only labors alongside your brother and/or your sister but are also one who is willing to fight alongside them as well? Are you such who could model and pattern your life after what we find in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah and how those who worked in rebuilding the wall and the gates of the city had a sword on their person as well as the instruments needed to engage in the work of rebuilding the wall. The enemies and adversaries of the work were very real and were a very real threat to the returned exiles and captives who were rebuilding the wall and repairing the gates. As such they were not only working alongside each other as co laborers but they were also working alongside of each other as fellow soldiers. This is perhaps the single greatest example of the saints of God not only laboring alongside and with each other but also standing alongside each other and fighting against any enemies and adversaries which arose.
As you continue reading the words which are found within this epistle you will find the apostle Paul admonishing them to rejoice in the Lord. The apostle Paul would admonish and exhort them to beware of dogs, to beware of evil workers, and to beware of the mutilation. The apostle Paul continues on to declare unto them that they were the circumcision who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus and had no confidence in the flesh—this despite the fact that he himself had reason the rejoice and have confidence in the flesh. The apostle Paul goes on to provide his pedigree and credentials if you will before emphatically declaring unto the Philippian saints that what things were once gain to him he has now counted loss for Christ. Moreover the apostle Paul would go on to describe how he counted all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom he suffered the loss of all things. The apostle Paul counted all these things as rubbish that he might gain Christ and be found in Him that he would not have his own righteousness which is from the law but that which is through faith in Christ. The ultimate desire of the apostle Paul is the same desire which we as those who believe in Him and call upon His name must have within our own hearts and spirits—namely that we might know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings. The true and ultimate goal of anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord and believes upon His name is to know Christ—and not only know Christ but also the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings. What’s more is each and every one of us must needs be conformed to His death that we might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. The apostle Paul would go on to write unto these saints how he had not already attained or had already “arrived” but what he did do was press on that he might lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus had laid hold on him. For the apostle Paul he did not consider himself to have apprehended, however, one thing he did do was forgetting those things which were behind and reaching toward to those things which were ahead. The apostle Paul would press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus and then instructed these saints to have this same mind.
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the final verses of the third chapter for within them the apostle Paul describes how there are many who walk and are the enemies of the cross of Christ. The end of these individuals is destruction whose god is their belly and whose glory is in their shame—those who set their mind on earthly things. What the apostle does next is emphatically declare unto them that their citizenship was in heaven from which they eagerly waited for the Savior who is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this Jesus who will transform their lowly bodies that they might be conformed to His glorious body according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. If there is one thing we must needs recognize within this epistle it’s the work and working of God within our lives. The apostle Paul boldly declared his confidence that he who began a good work would be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul would also describe unto them how it was God who worked in them both to will and to do for and unto His great pleasure. Now in this passage we find the apostle speaking of the working by which the living God is able to subdue all things to Himself and under His feet. One of the single greatest things we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this epistle is that we as the saints of God must needs be those who not only understand the work and working of God within our lives but are also those who work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. We have a responsibility to partner together with the work of Christ in the earth as well as partner together with the work that is being done in us as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We as the saints of God must rejoice in the Lord always and let our gentleness be known to all men. We are to be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving as we make our requests known to God. It is the peace of God—which surpasses all understanding—which will guard our hearts and our minds through Christ Jesus.