Welcome to the fourth week of our fall series Philippians: Choosing Joy Under Pressure. In this series, we are watching a young and growing church overcome adversity to faithfully follow Christ. Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi reveals a church on the edge of disaster. The Apostle Paul has learned that this is a congregation in crisis and the spread of the gospel is at risk of stalling. Join us as we discuss the surprising way Paul coaches these young believers to set aside their differences and pull together for the sake of the gospel.
Building healthy and life-giving relationships.
What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20–30 minutes checking in with each other.
Last week your group discussed the challenge of “The Waiting Room.” Take a few moments to update each other about how God has met you in your season of waiting. Share some specific ways your group can celebrate and continue to pray for you.
Share part of your story.
Tell about a person in your life whom you admire for their humility and grace. What makes them humble?
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Read Philippians 1:27–2:4. As a group, highlight the major themes, big ideas, and key words.
What’s At Stake.
The Apostle Paul has a growing concern that the young and growing church in Philippi is beginning to fracture. He has learned there is a high level of complaint, arguing and selfishness among these young believers. The conditions are ripe for a disastrous split which will harm the reputation of Jesus. Unfortunately, this is not a unique challenge in Philippian culture. How have you seen conflict and disagreement mishandled and become destructive in our culture? How have you seen it handled well? What is your default response to disagreement and conflict?
Pressure is Normal.
The young church in Philippi is facing pressure from the outside, creating tension and conflict on the inside. Philippi is a Roman colony ruled by Caesar who demanded to be acknowledged as lord and savior. How difficult do you think it would be to follow Jesus as Lord in Philippi? Tell how.
In addition, this young church is facing financial distress with many living in extreme poverty. The pressure is suffocating, and they are starting to snipe at each other. What is your usual response to financial pressure and stress? In what ways could outside pressures hinder unity and growth in your family, church or small group community?
What They Already Have.
Paul is attempting to help the Philippians recover the lost art of getting along. He knows that if the Philippians don’t get this right, the spread of the gospel will fail. Instead of telling the Philippians what to do, Paul asks them to focus on what has already been done for them. He reminds them of the generosity of God entering our broken planet through Jesus. How is knowing that Jesus rescued you supposed to lead to healthy relationships?
Paul encourages the Philippians to make his joy complete by being like-minded (Philippians 2:2). He is concerned that personal preferences and beliefs are undermining healthy relationships. His remedy for overcoming disagreement is focusing on the mind of Christ. Why do you think unity is so important to Paul?
Turn to page 21 in your journal and make a list of Paul’s instructions on how to adopt the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:1-4). Which of these does your group do well? Which ones need some attention and growth? Together, design a plan for how your group can practice your opportunities for growth.
Something Has To Be Replaced.
The new believers in Philippi are struggling to let go of old behaviors, and the credibility of the gospel is at stake. Their behavior is supposed to lead people to Christ; instead, they are in danger of creating obstacles with their complaints, arguments, and selfishness. What are the similar behaviors you struggle with that could hinder the spread of the gospel?
Consider all the various strategies Paul could have suggested to encourage the Philippians toward unity. Why do you think Paul coaches them to focus on humility? What difference should humility make as we relate to one another?
Pastor Jeff reminded us to quote “2-3-4” when we are walking into a difficult situation that could involve some pressure. He is quoting Scripture (Philippians 2:3-4) highlighting Paul’s challenge to the Philippians to embrace humility and value others above themselves. This makes Jesus and the Church credible. How are you cultivating the practice of looking out for others? Who are you specifically looking out for? It is impossible to look out for others with an empty tank. How could investing in the Row, Circle, and Chair fill your tank to inspire and motivate you toward a lifestyle of generosity and service?
INVEST IN OTHERS
Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.
Discuss how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.
Paul eagerly reminds the Philippians, and us, to remember what we have been given. Our generous God provided his Son Jesus to save us. His rescue should instill within us that we are loved, treasured, and secure. This awesome truth can inspire and motivate us to share this with a neighbor, co-worker or friend in desperate need of Jesus. Who needs what you have? What courageous steps can you take to share?
This week we learned that humility is the rare and remarkable capacity to acknowledge that it is not all about me. Identify one person, other than yourself, who you can look out for this week. What are some specific ways you can practice generosity and a servant’s heart toward them?
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