What are the worst sins that Paul mentioned in his letter to the Christian believers at Philippi? This letter of his is amazingly positive, especially given the fact that he writes it as he languishes in a dark, dank, dismal Roman dungeon for the crime of sharing his faith. And the prohibitions contained in it are remarkable in their seeming triviality—at least, compared with the “heavy” sins mentioned in his letters to other churches. Or are they?
The three things that Paul forbids these people to do are these:
–acting out of selfish or prideful motives (2:3,4)
–grumbling and arguing (2:14)
All of us would have to confess that we’ve done these quite regularly. Why would they be a big deal to God, anyway? In each of these, our eyes are turned on ourselves and our own situation, rather than on God and on others.
The antidotes follow: Look at God and others instead of at ourselves.
Pride & selfish motives are countered by an attitude of service. Paul reminds us repeatedly to be concerned about one another’s welfare above our own (2:3-4, 20-21). In this, Jesus is our supreme example, who set aside his glory to lower Himself to the weakness of human existence and then still further to an ignominious death on a cross—all for our benefit. (2:5-11)
Grumbling is countered by serenity. Paul shares how he (in prison!) has learned to be content in any and every situation, in good times and in unspeakably difficult circumstances. He can manage this attitude through God’s strength.(4:11-13)
Worry is countered by awareness of God’s sufficiency. Prayer about our every concern, along with thanks to God, will bring God’s peace to guard our minds from anxiety. (4:6-7)