Read Introduction: Today we begin to study the book of Philippians, one of the Apostle Paul’s final books, written from prison in Rome, shortly before his death. In this first chapter we find five hallmarks to Christian maturity, no doubt, insights Paul has picked up in his years of ministry throughout the Roman world.
- Read Philippians 1:6. It states that “God began a good work in you”. Can each of you recall when and how God called you and saved you?
Marks of Maturity
Now we are going to look at five marks of maturity found in this chapter, signs that God is “completing” the work he began in you!
We start out Independent; we should end up in partnerships.
- Read Philippians 1:3 Who do you thank God for regularly? Why do you think some people may have no-one to thank God for?
- Read Philippians 1:4-5. Who are your partners in the Gospel, and how to you think you can develop some more strong partnerships?
- Read Philippians 1:7-8. Why do you need “Partners” in the Gospel?
We start out idealistic; we should end up realistic
- Read Philippians 1:12-14. Teenagers often think of life in idealistic terms, but real life is more gritty, sometimes more painful, than that. Paul see’s his chains (time in prison) as “advancing the Gospel”. What painful things can actually be used for our good, and how should this affect our attitude to difficulty? Can anyone recount biblical examples of purpose in pain, and how godly men showed good attitude while in pain?
- Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. Paul’s missionary life was a difficult one. What is the difference between his life and yours, and how does it make you feel about your passion for Jesus?
We start out judgemental; we should end up gracious
- Read Philippians 1:15-18. Here, Paul mentions certain people who preach the Gospel for all the wrong reasons. “What does it matter?” is his conclusion in verse 18. How could this mature attitude to people who do things differently, or even wrongly, affect our judgements of other Christians and different denominations?
We start out self centred; we should end up kingdom minded.
Throughout Philippians 1 Paul speaks repeatedly of the Gospel. He talks of partnering for the Gospel, defending the Gospel, confirming the Gospel and advancing the Gospel. Sometimes Church life and ministry can seem more about people getting to do things they enjoy, rather than living to advance the Gospel, which seemed to be Paul’s priority in life.
- How does your life advance the Gospel?
- We often find ourselves involved in ministry for 2-4 hours a week. How are you using the other 164 hours a week to advance the Gospel? How does it make you feel to know that you will give an account to God for all the use of your time and energies in life, not simply the “Church ministry” hours?
We start out world minded; we should end up heaven minded.
Read Philippians 1:21-26.
- Paul seemed more heaven minded, than world minded as he got near the end of his life. He had enjoyed wonderful God encounters (outlined in 2 Cor 12:1-4). How do you think encounters with God can make you more heaven minded?
- Can anyone in the group share stories of times when you have encountered God in a powerful, personal, way? And how has this affected your life?