June 21st, 2023 – Wednesday Afternoon
“…holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” ~Philippians 2:16
Doing all things without grumbling or arguing may have seemed like a trivial command at the outset, but as we have seen in the last two devotionals, obedience to such a command has far greater significance than we often think. Sometimes we do not realize the impact our life of obedience (or disobedience) has on others until someone tells us how much it affects them – as Paul told the Philippians above. While this certainly shouldn’t be the primary reason for our faithfulness (loving God and living in response to His gospel should be #1), it does (and should) cause us to more carefully walk in the way we ought to go.
Back up for a second… “Holding fast the word of life” comes after the original command (doing all things without grumbling or complaining), the expanded result (being faultless and pure children of God who are above reproach), and how God uses it (appearing as lights in the midst of our crooked and perverse generation). This last phrase here in verse 16 could have multiple meanings: 1. Holding fast to the word of life insinuates a clinging to or faithful adherence to the “word of life” – the gospel, commands, and instruction of God which leads to or embodies true life. 2. “Holding fast” could also be translated “to hold forward, hold forth, present”, thus indicating a holding forward of the Light (in the midst of the darkness). 3. Holding fast or holding forth the word of life certainly has to do with hanging onto and putting forward Jesus – the true Word and the real Life – though this passage may not be saying that specifically.
Look at the passage one more time. What it means is this: If the Philippians hold fast the word of life (as seen in the obedience and witness of their thoughts, words, actions, and entire lives), Paul will have a reason to boast (or glory) when Christ sits as King and Judge. On that Day, Paul will have reason to rejoice that his laborious toil for the gospel was not in vain – that it was truly worth it – if the Philippians run the race well.
So what about you and I? Are we holding fast the word of life? Are we bringing glory to God and to the labor of those with whom He has entrusted our spiritual care and instruction? Are we living a faithful life of obedience in response to the grace and mercy of God?