Philippians 1:27 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 one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel
Just because I am worthy doesn’t mean I am worthy. I know that probably doesn’t make any sense, but let’s take a look at the difference between worthy and worthy. First of all, I know that I am worthy because Jesus has made me worthy. He extended something to me that I couldn’t earn myself – grace. Because of His grace, I am worthy to be in relationship with the Father. I am worthy of speaking the gospel. It’s all because of Him that I am worthy, it took no act on my part besides the act of surrender. Essentially, once I made the decision to do nothing (stop striving by my own efforts), He was free to do everything. I like this concept a lot. So I embrace it with open arms and a surrendered heart.
Even though I am worthy, however, I have to make the choice to be worthy. It’s a different kind of worthy I am talking about though. I am not talking about a cleaned up life courtesy of Jesus Christ. I am talking about a lived out life FOR Jesus Christ. Grace loses it’s functionality when I choose not to live in it. But when I receive that grace and walk out a changed life, I can become worthy of the gospel. That’s a choice.
The word Paul uses here is the word conduct. He says to conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. In other words, choose to live a redeemed life. If you spend your life tearing others down and then share the gospel, who is going to listen? If you live your life in sin and tell others that Jesus will clean them up, what evidence do you have that this is remotely true? If you are full of bitterness, unforgiveness, and hate, how can you say that Jesus changes our hearts? Because to the world, it doesn’t appear that he has changed yours.
So even though we have been made worthy, we have got to make the choice to live worthy. Our life should line up with the gospel that we say we believe in. I am reading a book by C.S. Lewis and he addresses how we get to that place. I’ll paraphrase what he says. “If we are going to make our world a Christian place, we must first become fully Christian. In order to ‘do unto others what you would have them do unto you,’ it will first require that you love your neighbor. And if you are going to love your neighbor, you will first need to love your God. And if you are going to love your God, you must obey Him.”
It is a profound statement that gets to the heart of the matter. Living a life in a manner worthy of the gospel begins with obedience. It requires laying down the things that God calls us to lay down. It means cutting off the things that God tells us destroy us. It starts in cultivating our relationship with Him. When we are in that place, our life will begin to line up with the very gospel that we preach. It is then and only then that the gospel we preach will be effective in reaching the lost. It is when they see changed lives that they will desire to have theirs changed too.