Philippians 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Earlier verses in this chapter are justly famous, and indeed I quote them often, but at this moment this verse resonates with me. To some people this might seem like pride to the point of hubris, but we need to remember that Paul’s readers didn’t have the New Testament to rely on; he was still writing it! I am reminded of the hymn, Let Others See Jesus In You. I translated it into modern Japanese, and we sing it fairly often in this church. The second verse has a line that says, “Your life’s a book before their eyes; they’re reading it through and through.” I had to put the specific character for “read” into the lyrics, because just entering it phonetically, it sounds like “people are calling you.” Actually, the first time we used my translation here, some people thought I had used the wrong character, because Japanese doesn’t have the expression, “I can read him like a book.” The thing is, the average person on the street isn’t going to pick up a Bible to read it, but they’re going to see Christians. That second verse of the hymn continues, “Say, does it point them to the skies? Let others see Jesus in you.” We need to live as Paul did, as “walking Bibles,” so to speak. We tend to shy away from this because, frankly, we like to sin every once in a while! Now, we are going to sin, because of our human frailty, but we certainly shouldn’t plan to sin, and far too often we do even that. We are commissioned as witnesses for Christ, (Acts 1:8) and we need to live accordingly, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Another thing comes to me from this verse, and that is Paul’s stress on “put it into practice.” We have the Bible to read, and Paul was busy being the Bible, as well as writing it, but in any case it is to be put into practice. Those who admired Paul from a distance, so to speak, got little or no benefit from their admiration, but those who applied what they learned from him discovered the same God he served, and that is the greatest of blessings. And finally, Paul reminds us here that God is the God of peace. The verses leading up to this are famous in terms of dealing with anxiety, but ultimately, the key is applying the truth we know. Just as James said, anything less is deceiving ourselves. (James 1:22)
Even as I seek to be a “walking Bible” for others, I need to be careful to apply the Word myself. Frankly, I won’t be an accurate “translation” of the Bible unless I am living it out myself. That is a constant challenge! Distractions are limitless, and the devil is a crafty adversary. I can’t overcome him in my own wisdom and strength, but if I am fully submitted to my Lord in obedience, then and only then can I resist the devil and have him flee. (James 4:7) In my years in Omura I have had many people express admiration and even envy of my faith, but distressingly few have accepted such faith for themselves. I’m not to give up, but rather keep speaking the truth in love, living it out so that the Holy Spirit will have every opportunity to draw these people to Christ, for their salvation and the glory of God.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I am daily impressed with the reality that I can’t save anyone on my own. I pray that You would indeed save the people of Omura, of Japan, whether I am involved or not, for Your glory alone. Thank You. Hallelujah!