We face plenty of battles in our lives. You may be in the middle of one today. The truth is that it is hard to be joy-filled when you are being attacked in any way. But the reality is, there is a very real enemy at work in this world and his sole goal is to defeat you or at the very least cause you to believe that you are defeated. Pastor and author Warren Wiersbe writes, “The Christian life is not a playground; it is a battlefield.”
The Apostle Paul had a clear understanding about that because he had faced plenty of battles when he was in Phillipi; and when he wrote his letter to the Believers there, he was facing even more while he was in Rome. In Philippians 1:27-30, the Apostle Paul offers us at least three important principles for achieving victory in life’s battles, especially those we face for the sake of the gospel.
To achieve victory in life’s battles, practice these three principles:
1. Consistently honor Christ in your life. 27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Philippians 1:27a
It’s easy to honor Jesus when things are going great in life; but how about when things are not going so great? That’s the challenge, and Paul knew it well because he was living it! He had endured plenty of hardship for the sake of the gospel, yet he was determined to live in a way that honored Jesus, no matter what happened in his life.
I gave an example of my recent experience at the Lowe’s return desk. I had to return a washer drain hose and was wrestling with some frustration. I didn’t recognize the attendant at the desk, but she recognized me and said, “You’re Pastor Joel, right?” I immediately wiped the frustration off my face, smiled and kindly said, “yes I am!” Then, I quickly replayed all that I had done or said at that desk to make sure my frustration with the hose didn’t make a poor impression on her. The good news is, I hadn’t done or said anything foolish; but the bad news was that I had to even think about it! It was an important reminder to me of the importance of consistently honoring Christ in my life, no matter what happens!
An important question to ask throughout the day every day, even as you go through life’s battles: “Am I conducting myself in a manner that is worthy of the gospel?” (Ephesians 4:1)
2. Cooperate as a team with fellow Believers for the sake of the gospel. 27 …Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel. Philippians 1:27b
I’m a big sports fan, but even if you’re not, you can appreciate what Paul is getting at in this text. This phrase translated striving together is where we get our English word athletics. Paul was painting a picture that teamwork leads to victory. In fact, he used a literary device in this book in the original language that, when used in conjunction with other words, emphasized unity. Kind of like our prefix, “co” as in cooperate, or operate together.
Paul wanted the church in Philippi to win in every way… to win people to Christ, to advance the gospel, to grow the church, to defeat the enemy, and to experience joy. To achieve victory, he knew it was vital that they work together, strive together, as a unified team. And to be clear, working together as a team means putting self, selfish desires, and selfish ambitions aside. It is an emphasis, not on “me,” but on “we.”
When a team or an army is united, it is difficult to defeat. When a marriage and family is united, it will be strong and healthy. When a church is united, it will be effective in ministry and in making disciples. Unity leads to victory!
The inverse is also true, when a team is divided, when there is infighting, or bickering, or jockeying for position, defeat is imminent. Where there is selfish ambition, defeat is on the horizon. Have you ever experienced disunity like that, on a team, in your family, in the workplace, or in the church? In a word, it is miserable. There is no joy in where disunity resides because disunity leads to defeat.
Are you pursuing unity in key relationships in your life? The enemy’s favorite battle strategy is to divide and conquer. Don’t let him do that in your life. Unity leads to victory!
Click here to listen to Joy in the Journey - Part 4 - Achieving Victory, including the third principle in achieving victory in life battles, confidence!