Minds set on the things of God rather than minds set on the things of man — that’s been running through my head this week as I prepare to speak, Lord willing, at our gathering this Sunday. Not surprising it would factor into my filter as I continue to read in Philippians this morning.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
(Philippians 1:12 ESV)
Certainly that is a “mind set on things of God” sort of sentiment. Only as we believe in God’s provision, trust in God’s power, and hope in God’s promises could we declare such a view from God’s perspective. Thinking that’s a pretty familiar verse for most of us. So, not surprised.
But then, I encounter the following. And it stretches this mind which most naturally wants to set itself on the things of man.
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. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake.
(Philippians 1:27-29 ESV)
It has been granted to you. That’s what caught my eye. That’s what raised a “suspicion.” Could this word, granted, actually be graced? Yup, it could.
Looked it up and sure enough the original word is charizomai, form the root word charis. Oh, there’s other Greek words translated as granted in the NT with the idea of bestowing or delivering something. But here Paul is led by the Spirit to use the word for gifting.
Fits pretty comfortably with Part A of the gift, that we should “believe in Him.”
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)
Amen and Hallelujah. Faith, the gift of God graced to us. Got it!
But what if we tweak that well known verse to encompass the Part B of Paul’s Philippians statement?
For by grace you get to suffer for His sake. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
Okay, that’s a mind set on the things of God perspective. We don’t get there with minds set on the things of man.
But to these believers who sorrowed at Paul’s imprisonment for the gospel, and were perhaps confused by his suffering for Christ, Paul exhorts them, “It’s been granted. It’s a gift. For me and for you.”
Suffering has been granted to the believer. Whether it’s for the gospel, or in the gospel, it’s comes with being saved by the gospel.
“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ~ Jesus
(John 16:33 ESV)
Tribulation, it’s part of the package. Could be the world’s opposition or could be the body’s deterioration. Might be attacks of the enemy, or could be the loss of family and friends. Whatever the suffering, it has been gifted to us.
That we might know His strength in our weakness. That we might realize mercies new every morning. That we might demonstrate gospel power even as we cling to Jesus for gospel faithfulness. That we might grow in our faith, becoming more like Him.
For it has been granted to you . . .
Can I get there? Only with my mind set on the things of God.
And only by His grace.
And only for His glory.