The Joy of Competing for Jesus’ Team

Daily Devotional: Day 127

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me” (Philippians 1:29-30, NKJV).

Blessed are you if you suffer with Christ.

Today’s Scripture reading is selected from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi. Paul had a wonderful relationship with them; you will notice this if you read the whole letter. Currently, Paul is writing from prison. He tells them that they, the Philippians, have been granted not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake. Paul describes this suffering as a “conflict.” The Greek word translated “conflict” is agōn. This word was used by the Greeks to refer to the crowd that met at the national games, for example, the Olympic and Pythian games. Hence the word can be understood as a contest for a prize. Paul wants the Philippians to rejoice in the fact that the Lord has bestowed on them the privilege of suffering (the suffering that comes with competing) for His sake.

People suffer for different reasons. But suffering for the sake of Christ and His Gospel is a special gift (grace) given to us by God, for which we should rejoice. As already noted, the kind of suffering Paul is describing in today’s passage is what he calls a conflict or contest. By borrowing a term from the world of competitive sports, he is telling us that suffering for Christ is like competing in a contest. You must be disciplined, steady and sound if you want to win the prize. But it is also a great privilege to be selected to represent the competing team – Jesus’ Team: the Sons of God.

As we go about witnessing to our faith in Christ, there are powers we must contend against. We therefore need the mindset and discipline of an athlete to succeed. You may think of yourself this way: You have been selected as an athlete to compete for Team Jesus. In Jude 1:3, the author says, “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (emphasis added). I pray you take your place today and contend for the Christian faith. The peace of the Lord be upon you! Amen.

Pray to the Father about what you’ve heard today.

For further study: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

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