Training women to boldly step into their role in the kingdom of God.
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Hey friends! I’ve got a question for you: If you could tell me what you spend most of your time thinking about, what would it be?
If you’re not sure, it might help to think about what you pray about the most. I’ve heard it said that “prayer expresses desire” and it totally makes sense when you think about it:
We pray about whatever is most important to us in the moment.
Whether it’s health, peace of mind, money, friends, relief, comfort, and regardless of the depth of your faith, what you pray about expresses what you care about because taking the time to talk to your Creator is something you have to be pretty intentional about, right? And I think it gives us a glimpse into what takes up the most space in our heads.
Paul is in the middle of talking about what is important in life when he throws out this little nugget: “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13). There’s a couple of things we can understand from this verse:
1. What we think about matters.
2. What we do with those thoughts has an impact.
In the first half, Paul tells us about the importance of forgetting what lies behind. Now, he’s not saying don’t ever think of the past. Remembrance is all over Scripture! But what he is saying is that we should not dwell on the past. All the things we’ve done, all the things we have been through, have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. But those things are not our focus.
So this is why I asked what you think about the most: is your focus usually on yourself or your problems? Or is your focus on eternity?
In the very next verse, Paul says “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (V. 14). If you’re been watching any of the pre-Olympic footage, you’ve probably seen some of the runners. Paul is using Greek Olympic games language here! The word “goal” literally means “goal marker.” A goal marker is the focus of the eye when a runner runs the race. Paul’s focus, his goal marker, was on Christ and eternity with him. What Paul thought about most was eternity!
So the second half of verse 13, Paul encourages us to “strain forward to what lies ahead.” The original phrase for “straining forward” was another athletic metaphor. It brings to mind the straining of muscles, the clarity of focus needed to run the race, and the complete dedication required to finish for the prize. Straining forward required both mental and physical discipline! Basically what he’s saying is this: staying focused on Christ and eternity is difficult, but rewarding. It will impact the way you live your life.
Just like an Olympic runner, you don’t make it to the Olympic Games without being intentional with mental and physical disciplines. You can’t just go for a run once and call yourself an Olympian. It takes hard work and dedication. In the same way, our lives as believers should be intentional and dedicated. It will take the hard work of getting in the Word often and being in relationship with other believers so that you stay encouraged to walk with Jesus toward eternity with him!
While it’s easy to spend our days thinking about all of our problems or wants, both great and small, those thoughts won’t benefit to us! When you’re tempted to complain about your circumstances, try to lay them at the feet of Jesus and turn your eyes toward eternity. Pay special attention to your prayers
Have you ever noticed how hard kids sometimes work for something make-believe? My kids will go outside, gather sticks and buckets of rocks almost as big as they are, drag them to another side of the yard, drop them into a useless pile, and then go right back to get more, sweating and grunting the whole way. I’ve often watched in wonder at how hard they’ll work for nothing, but the second I tell them to clean their room they fall on the floor crying “BUT IT’S TOO MUCH WORK!!!” Like, what?
But if you think about it, don’t people kind of do the same thing with God? So many of us spend our entire lives working and straining to achieve goodness and righteousness, picking up spiritual sticks and rock buckets full of “good works” and then carrying them across our yards only to drop them into a pile that does absolutely nothing for us. We’re just doing the same things over and over again in hopes that it’ll make us into better humans. It’s truly amazing how hard we’ll work for nothing.
Paul gives the church in Philippi a similar story in Philippians 3:1-11 when he talks about the religious leaders who were doing the very same thing. They were spending their days boasting about their buckets of good works and how everyone else should pick up their own buckets and get to work, but Paul argues back that their buckets are full of trash.
(Yes, he literally says those kinds of good works are trash. Paul was not boring!)
And the only way he knows this is because he too used to carry buckets full of trash until he realized Jesus had a better way: faith.
See, there are only two ways to try to become good enough to get to God: through works or through faith.
When you try to get to God through works, you have to be able to meet the standard he’s set. And if you’ve ever read one page of Leviticus you’ll quickly realize there’s just no way you’ll ever be able to do it all. Or if you’re like the religious leaders and you think for a second you can, then you’ve missed why God actually gave us the Law. He didn’t give it expecting us to actually meet the standard. He gave it to us so that we realize we can’t. Because the minute we think we’re good enough, we’ve just put pride in our hearts and made ourselves equal to God and broken the Law. It’s kind of a brain bender isn’t it?
To keep it simple: we will never be as good or holy as God. Which takes us to the second (and truly only) way to get to God.
A super church-y word, but Biblical faith just means means “confidence” or “assurance.” Paul tells us in verse 9 that we can get to God through “faith in Christ.” In other words, we get to God when we have the assurance that Jesus is enough. When we have the confidence that our works are useless in getting favor with God. And that faith opens our eyes to all the people around us carrying those rock buckets back and forth and makes us want to tell them “stop!!!” Which is exactly what Paul is doing for the Philippians here. He’s saying “guys, I’ve been there! I was the best of the best according to the standard, but my heart was prideful. I completely missed the need for a Savior. Don’t do what I did. Stop following the people teaching these things and follow Christ!”
In the same way, put down your spiritual sticks and rock buckets, ladies. Quit letting yourself believe that going to church every week and picking up your Bible once a month is making you holy. Quit believing you have to have a perfect, put together family. Stop carrying heavy loads you weren’t meant to carry. Feeling like you have to do it all and then some. Jesus did it all already. Rejoice in that!
This week I made a poll on my Instagram to see how many of my Christian friends currently have an older mentor in their life, and then I asked how many of them are currently mentoring someone younger. The results were actually pretty interesting:
First of all, more than 60% of these women do not have an older mentor and are not mentoring someone younger. Of those that do have an older mentor, almost 100% of them were also mentoring someone younger, a statistic I found to be fascinating! I’ll get to why in a minute.
On the other hand, of those who do not have an older mentor in their lives, 100% were also not mentoring someone younger. Is there a correlation? I absolutely believe the answer is yes.
We live in a culture that really struggles with multigenerational relationships. Most church groups are divided by age or phase of life. We’ve got children’s ministry, youth group, young adult ministry, young marrieds, young families, and senior groups. But you rarely find a church where the groups are intentionally mixed regarding age and phase of life, and I truly believe we are missing out on something God has actually called us to.
Throughout Scripture, we see examples of these relationships. Moses and Joshua. Eli and Samuel. Naomi and Ruth. Jesus and his disciples. Yet, in our own churches and our own relationships, we struggle to find mentors and become mentors. Somewhere along the generational lines in America, older women stopped teaching younger women. Younger women stopped seeking out or even respecting older women. But we need these relationships more than we could ever imagine.
In Philippians 2:19-24, we see the results of what mentoring does to spread the Gospel. One of the most impactful mentor relationships we see in all of Scripture is Paul and Timothy. Now, in this section, we don’t get to see how their relationship has been built, but we see the impact it has made! Paul trained up a very young man named Timothy to become his apprentice in the faith. Timothy followed Paul and joined him in the good and the bad of ministry. We see in 2:22 that they had become so close that they were like a father and son, and because of this relationship, Timothy became a leader who was key in spreading the Gospel in ancient times.
How do we have one of these mentor relationships? The common phrases I hear about why women are not in mentor relationships is that “there is no one seeking me out” or “there is no one that wants to hear what I have to say.” Philippians 2:21-22 helps us out!
Seek Jesus’ interests, not your own (v21). Our flesh says, “wait for someone to come find us” instead of “seek her out.” Our interests might say “find the popular one,” where Jesus might say “the quiet one will have more for you.” Our flesh is intimidated. Jesus says, “perfect love casts out fear.” Boldly seek out this relationship, ladies. It’s more than worth it.
Seek service above comfort (v22). It’s uncomfortable to seek out a mentor relationship. But Jesus doesn’t call us to comfort. He calls us to serve. And we desperately need women who are willing to serve other women, whether by mentoring them or being mentored by them, because it is one of the surest ways to spread the gospel. This means having a relationship that withstands the good, the bad, and the ugly. Older women: let the younger ones see the real you, not the polished you. Younger women: let the older women speak into those hard moments; be willing to hear where you need to grow and mature.
Going back to those statistics: The fact t
Last week, we talked a little about humble obedience and how important it is in becoming more Christ-like. But what does that look like, practically speaking? How do we know if we are being obedient to the Lord and why is it really that important?
In Philippians 2:12-18 Paul gives us three ways to practice humble obedience and why it matters:
LIVE OUT YOUR FAITH (verses 12-13)
Paul says to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Okay, Emily, what does that mean..I thought we were saved by grace, not by working it out ourselves in fear!
I promise this verse isn’t a contradiction! What Paul is saying here is that when you are saved, you want to act on it because you don’t want to live the life you lived before (that’s the working out your salvation part) and you do this with a holy reverence of God that trembles at the thought of sin (that’s the fear and trembling part). It’s kind of like if you were raised in a Christian home, you live out your parents’ faith until you come to the realization that it has to be a personal choice. Paul is telling the Philippians “don’t live out my faith, live out your own!”
And once you make that choice and you start becoming more like Christ, the thought of sin will be totally awful to you so you’ll do anything you can to run from it! Living out your faith looks like desiring a different way than the way of the world.
2. BE JOYFULLY STEADFAST (verses 14-16)
So now that you’re living out your own faith with a hate for sin, you’ve got to find a way to be in it for the long haul, because it is a loooooong haul, amiright? How do we do this? Paul tells us to “do all things without complaining or arguing.” The Greek word for “all things” is literally all things.
Try this: throughout your day, every time you complain or argue about something, make a tally on a piece of paper or your phone. Then go crawl into bed and cry and complain about how hard it is to not complain! Boop. This one feels impossible.
We can laugh (or cry) about how impossible it feels, but Paul says it’s super important because people who don’t complain or argue stand out. Think about that person in your life who always seems to just joyfully go with the flow. If you’re even able to think of someone like this, they’re probably rare. Paul is telling us that in order to look like Jesus in this world, we must become this rare person! And we all know our world desperately needs this kind of influence because each day this world becomes darker and more hopeless. When we are joyfully steadfast in our run towards eternity with the Lord, we will “shine as lights in the world” against “a crooked and twisted generation” of unbelievers.
3. LET MINISTRY BRING JOY (verses 17-18)
Paul uses some Jewish/religious language in verses 17-18, but what he’s essentially saying is “even if I have to sacrifice everything in order to help you know Jesus better, I will do it with joy!” Wow. I know I don’t feel this way about ministry super often, and I’m a pastor’s wife! People can be really draining or hurtful, and I naturally just want to run away and get comfy on my couch to protect myself from getting hurt instead of drawing myself deeper into those people’s lives. Ministry is messy. But Paul says we’re supposed to live the same way, choosing joy in the mess instead of avoiding the mess.
So friends, joyfully (and boldly!) go live out your l
Humility. It’s not a word we find much in our self-love, self-affirming world, right? Yet we wonder why our world is so divided.
After Paul has made an exhortation to the Philippians to become united with the same love and the same mind, he gives them the practical way to do this:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3-4)
In other words: Be Humble. Ugh.
Paul is telling us that in order to be united, we have to put others before ourselves. It makes sense, really. Every time I get into a fight with my husband, we both have this horrible tendency to fight to win. But when we stop to actually care about each other’s thoughts and feelings, we listen more. We talk less. One of us might still be right (usually me, of course...HA) but when we aren’t trying to shove our own ideas in each other’s faces we’re much more likely to listen and then we become united in trying to come to an agreement instead of divided in trying to win. Paul knows what he’s talking about here, friends.
But this humility thing is really hard for us. Why? Because humility does not come naturally to us. We believe we deserve so much. We deserve to have a night off from the dishes when we’re the ones who made dinner! We deserve a thank you from our kids for all the work we do for them! We deserve a raise for all the hours we put in over everyone else! Treat yourself, you’re the best! All the while, we’ve forgotten that we aren’t actually the best. We’re completely full of sin, and we actually deserve death because of that sin. We see this exact situation in Genesis, when Adam and Eve choose to eat the forbidden fruit. Satan tells them they will be just like God if they eat of the tree. But this was the big lie: Disobeying and trying to be like God made them as opposite of “like God” as they could have ever been. It made them prideful.
Of all the people who had the right to self-love and pridefulness, it was Jesus. He is literally equal to God, he IS God, yet he didn’t use this against anyone. He could have said he was too mighty for death (he was!) but he chose to go through it because obedience to God’s will was more important than his significance. It was because of this humble obedience that he was exalted. (Phil. 2:8-9).
Humble obedience makes us most in God’s image. That’s the great irony. The more humble we become, the less we want to be like God because we know he is the only one who deserves all the glory. Yet the more humble we become the more we become like God. And while we will never become God, because of his humble death on the cross, all of our sin is covered and we will get to share in his victory when he returns. Incredible!
So when your home, your marriage, or your church family feels divided, maybe you can ask yourself: am I putting my family’s needs above my own? Or do I feel like I deserve all the glory right now? Am I putting down the thoughts of my brothers and sisters in Christ because I feel like mine are better? Or am I humbly listening to their side and choosing to look to their interests in the same way I look to my own?
And if and when you fail to be humble, look to Christ and praise him that he chose humility every step of the way to cover when you couldn’t.
Love the podcast
Great content, discussion and giggles too!!
Enjoying all the Bold Movement has to offer
Megan and the rest have done a nice job of going through different Bibles and commentaries to share insights into passages. Have thoroughly enjoyed it and has led me to get a better study Bible. We need to know how to better wield our swords!
Great podcast! Love it!