Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Philippians 1:27 – 30
Every kid has heard it at some point whether from a parent, a teacher or even a friend. You know when your just having lots of fun and your behavior begins to cross the line between silly and crazy. What is it they say, “Why don’t you act your age!” This of course leads to the inevitable question, “how is someone my age suppose to act?” It is a reasonable response, I mean who knows what the proper way to act is for someones age. (Well apparently mothers know, but none of the rest of us do.)
The truth is that there is no clear definition of how people act at a certain age. The real meaning behind what is being said is that your behavior is embarrassing me. When you are out in public, you represent this family and you behavior is making all of us look bad. Your conduct is leaving a bad impression on people who are seeing you . It should serve to remind us that the way we conduct ourselves can effect the way people view us or those we represent.
In Philippians 1:27 Paul reminds believers of this fact when he says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” He is saying, “Don’t forget that you represent Christ to the world around you. What you do, will reflect on people’s impression of Christ.” This is the same message that Peter reminds us of when he writes, “ but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15 – 16)
This is what we are called to do. To “conduct (ourselves) in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” And so that is what we do as a Christian. We always act the way we should. . . . That would be nice, wouldn’t it, but far to often we find ourselves not living in a manner worthy of Christ. Instead we find ourselves caught up in our own self-interest. We worry more about what people will think of us, than what they will think of Christ. We find ourselves caught up in petty squabbles with those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. As a result the world does not see the unity in Christ that should abound, but a people divided and tearing each other apart. We allow our self-righteous indignation to replace the love of Christ. As a result, the world sees only judgement and not forgiveness.
Paul reminds the Philippian believers that when their conduct is worthy, it will be evident. He writes, “whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit.” Yet at the same time, we are to stand for the truth. We must strive “together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose” the gospel. It is only when we stand solid in God’s truth, while “conducting (ourselves) in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” that the world will see Christ in us. It is through seeing Christ in our lives that the world will come to know Him.
So the next time you catch yourself acting in an unworthy manner, stop and ask yourself. Is this really how I want to represent Christ? Will people know Christ for who he is and what he offers through my behavior? If not, then take a step back and choose a new course of action that is worthy of the gospel of Christ.