Philippians 3:17-18 ESV Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. (18) For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Several years ago I was cutting the grass. When suddenly my wife came in the backyard and took a picture of me. I thought it was weird that she was in such a hurry to snap a picture until I turned around and saw my little son pushing a toy lawn mower behind me. He was walking in my footsteps. He wanted to be like his dad.
Paul reinforces and encourages the church at Philippi to imitate him and those like him. Growing in Christ often looks like taking steps behind those the Lord has put in our life as examples of godly living. It’s one thing to be told that you should have a personal quiet time every morning. It’s another to be on a retreat and have an older friend in the Lord invite you in to see how they begin their day in the scriptures.
Paul also was crying as he wrote this. He was crying because there were folks he knew that had come in and were preaching a gospel of works. They were examples to many people, some perhaps had even left the church to follow after these teachers. Paul reminds us that not everyone who has a platform is worth following. There were some false teachers who weren’t worth following. The folks at Philippi needed to be careful about whom they imitated. Yet even in sharing his sorrow, Paul demonstrates a godly reaction to those who had made themselves enemies of the cross by teaching a system of works… tears.
Father, thank you for the gospel. Thank you for mature believers in Christ who can demonstrate the practical application of your scriptures and who exhibit godly lifestyles. May there be many who walk in their footsteps towards a mature faith in Christ. I confess I haven’t wept enough for those who have made themselves enemies of the cross. Thank you for the reminder today that while they may persecute us, they are not ultimately our enemies, they have made themselves your enemies. I pray for grace that they may have a Damascus road type conversion for your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I wrote a expository devotional all the way through Philippians. You can find it on the devotional page.