Follow The Leader

By Rev. J. Loren Russell

PHIL 2:12-18 (NKJV)
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

The text is a guide presented by the Apostle Paul to encourage the Philippian church so that they would have true joy. This joy is not based on circumstances or situations but established in the love of Christ. Since Paul established the church in Philippi, they had exhibited a strong missionary zeal and showed support for his ministry with faithful obedience to his leadership. He begins his discourse by telling his readers to imitate or follow his example.

Paul is writing this letter during his first imprisonment in Rome. He writes to encourage and to thank them for their support. Of all the churches Paul had started or ministered, he had a closer connection with the Philippian church than any other. He appeals to them that they maintain the same spirit of unity and faithfulness in his absence as they did when he was present.

As I looked at the text, I recreated his dialog using my sanctified imagination and the New Living Translation:

• I am not with you now, but, “You always followed my instructions when I was with you. In my absence, Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. “
• Because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that, “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
• So I urge you, family, “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God.”
• For what you have learned from me, I received from God. If you do as I instructed you, you will be “shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”
• Even though this life for me may soon be over, ” I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God.”
• Being taken from this life doesn’t bother me. In fact, I “want all of you to share in that joy.”
• While the death angel has called my name, I don’t want you to be mad at God. My battle has been fought and the victory will have been won. So, my last word to you as your teacher, your brother and ambassador of Christ, is “Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share in your joy.”

I know it was difficult for the Philippian believers to grasp this message, and it is just as difficult for the contemporary believer today. But we will have the triumphant joy Paul exhibited in this epistle if we follow his leadership!

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at Goodwill Baptist Church and is the spiritual leader of both LaGree Baptist Church and the Evangelical Church of God, all in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting (718-328-8096), and is the creator and host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Monday nights from 8:00 – 10:00 PM on Facebook Live. Be sure to ‘Friend’ the Matters of Faith YouTube Channel. Email us at Order your copy of Matters of Faith: The eBook at

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