Bible and Bible Study: July 2007 Archives

One Last Point


Barclay's short study is filled with many rich and meaningful observations. It's impossible to choose among them without also saying that you must read the whole thing. Nevertheless, there are some things that all might benefit from. And for those Christians among us whose inclination is to deride or demean or otherwise detract from other Christians, Barclay has this observation:

from Barclay's Commentary on the Letter to the Philippians

There is a lesson for us here. Paul knew nothing of personal jealousy or of personal resentment. So long as Jesus Christ was preached, he did not care who received the credit and the prestige. He did not care what other preachers said about him, or how unfriendly they were to him, or how contemptuous they were of him, or how they tried to steal a march upon him. All that mattered was that Christ was preached. All too often we resent it when someone else gains a prominence or a credit which we do not. All too often we regard a man as an enemy because he has expressed some criticism of us or of our methods. All too often we think a man can do no good because he does not do thing in our way. . . . Paul is the great example. He lifted the matter beyond all personalities; all that mattered was that Christ was preached.

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Return to Philippians


Another quotation from Barclay's powerful and useful study of the Letter to the Philippians.

When people are in sorrow, one of their greatest comforts is the awareness that others are bearing them to the throne of grace. When they have to face some back-breaking effort or some heart-breaking decision, there is new strength in remembering that others are remembering them before God. When they go into new places and are far from home, it is an upholding thing to know that the prayers of those who love them are crossing continents to bring them before the thrones of grace. We cannot call a man our friend unless we pray for him.

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Keeping Perspective


Here's a passage from William Barclay's commentary on (what else) The Letter to the Philippians:

On the day when Christ comes it will be like the coming of a king. On such a day the king's subjects are bound to present him with gifts to makr their loyalty and to show their love. The only gift Jesus Christ desires from us is ourselves. So, then, a man's supreme tak is to make his life fit to offer to Him. Only the grace of God can enable us to do that.

I do not desire the fat of animals--the sacrifice I require is a rended, contrite heart.

Over and over gain we are told that the sacrifice acceptable to God is the sacrifice of a life lived with Him. Like any good parent, God desires not material things that we can "give" Him (because it all belongs to Him anyway), but our love. And our love is best demonstrated in living a life that reflects all that He has taught us of love.

He's not asking the impossible, merely the improbable. We can't do it, but He can, and His grace is both sufficient and efficient.

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I write for a site that publishes reflections on the readings of the day and I don't usually reprint these elsewhere because I don't want to seem to be tooting my own horn. Many times I write the reflections and they vanish from my mind as I write them. If someone e-mails me about one that touched them, I have to go and find it again to see what was written.

However, this one stuck with me because I obviously needed the message desperately. I still need the message and so, as a more or less permanent record, I publish it here because I will collect it again in time. May it be of service to you as well.

Whoever wishes to be great among you, shall be your servant . . . . (see Matthew 20:26)

The only greatness that matters is not the ability to lord it over other people, but rather the ability to put oneself aside and serve completely. This greatness is so obvious that too often people cannot notice it.

Think about how difficult it is sometimes to make even the smallest sacrifice--five minutes to listen to the story of a child, a minute to console a co-worker during a rush to job completion, a dollar to a person who has nothing. Sometimes we do these things willingly, easily. But more often than not every demand upon time and resources is a demand.

To be a servant, to give willingly and unstintingly, to be completely at another's call--that is strength, that is greatness. The ability to set oneself to the side and to move forward helping others--it's hard to think of a greatness that could exceed that.

To be truly great, to be great as it really matters to God and to the rest of the world, we must be exceedingly small. Jesus completely emptied Himself on the cross, of dignity, of everything. When we ask for help to put ourselves aside and serve the needs of others, we imitate Jesus.

When we say, "Not my will, but Thy will," we are true disciples. A tower of strength is not the person who stands up for him or her self, but the person who stands up for others, serving them completely.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Bible and Bible Study category from July 2007.

Bible and Bible Study: May 2007 is the previous archive.

Bible and Bible Study: August 2007 is the next archive.

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