“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.”—Philippians 1:27–28 (NKJV)
Notice anything interesting about the Greek word above? Contained within this word is the English word polite. This word, which refers to a productive, praiseworthy, upstanding member of society, is used here by the apostle to describe the manner in which a believer should live. But instead of referring to any earthly nation, essentially the apostle is instructing the Philippians to conduct themselves as citizens of heaven, as people who avail themselves of and have pledged themselves to the law of the gospel.
Often, people think that being a Christian is some big, complicated endeavor where one must follow a rigorous and comprehensive set of laws and behavioral standards. But the truth is, it’s not that complicated! A Christ-follower simply needs to follow Christ. If we want to be people who conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of our heavenly citizenship, we simply need to follow the King of Heaven.
In this passage, Paul tells the Philippians here that, if they live their lives this way, in the way he taught them and all the other churches he ministered to (1 Corinthians 11:1), then even if he is never able to come to them again, then their lives will let everyone know of their great faith.
Their conduct would be proof of their salvation, because it would show that they belong to Christ and are in Christ; and that they can be certain that all those who were persecuted for His sake would be saved. You see, the persecution of believers was really beginning to ramp up in this time. And the Philippians themselves were experiencing it.
As a Christian, your bold and unflinching faith in the face of your persecutors serves to show that you are God’s, partakers of His holiness, and recipients of His grace. And even as your persecutor seeks to break you, they are merely rushing on to their own perdition (destruction, annihilation), not shaking or breaking your united faith and devotion. So, live boldly as a citizen of heaven, friends. Find your strength in Christ, live worthy with compassion and grace towards all (even those who persecute you), and be encouraged because your testimony can make a difference!
Politeuomai (conduct yourselves): To be a citizen; to behave as a citizen; to avail oneself of or recognize the laws; to conduct oneself as pledged to some law of life.
1. Take a close look at how you live. Why do you think it’s important for your conduct to match your convictions?
2. How does this verse inspire you to live your faith out loud?