Tuesday after the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Philippians 1:12—2:4 (NKJV)
1:12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. 27 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, 28 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. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
“It ever remains true that men persecute God’s Word and God’s children. …Wherever Christ is, Judas, Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, and Annas will inevitably be also, so also his cross. If not, he is not the true Christ.
“Therefore we are not concerned with our woes, but with the wretchedness of our persecutors; for we ourselves are well provided for. We are certain that they cannot detract from that; rather, the more they rage against us, the more they destroy themselves and prosper us, as St. Paul states in Philippians 1. ‘Who can harm us since we have a Lord who holds the death and life of all our adversaries in his hand.’ [Rom. 14:9] …They threaten us with death. If they were as smart as they are stupid, they would threaten us with life. It is a shame and disgrace to try to threaten and terrify Christ and his Christians with death for, after all, they are lords and victors over death. …
“However, they do not believe that Christ rose from the dead and is a Lord over life and death. For them he is still in the grave, yes, in Hell. But we are happy and confident because we know that Christ rose and that death is no more than the end of sin and the end of itself. For the life in this flesh still cleaves to us and is still lived in sin; this life cannot be without sin by reason of the flesh. And that prompts the incipient spirit in us to cry: Come, death and Judgment Day, and put an end both to sin and death. Amen.” (Dr. Martin Luther from “A Letter of Consolation for All Who Suffer Persecution”)