Where Philippians chapters 1 and 2 seem to draw me in with exceeding joy, chapter 3 tends to slap a person in the face. There is talk in this chapter of people who are “dogs, evil workers, and those who mutilate the flesh.” I find myself shaking my fist, along with Paul, at people like that. But before I go too far at condemning “them”, I need to make sure that I’m not on the same path. There are a couple of lines in Philippians that contain a phrase that has long caused me to pause:
For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. Philippians 3:18-19
“Their god is their belly” Paul just had to write about “them”. But does that sometimes describe “me”? Paul goes on to say that these misguided people “set their minds on earthly things.” I have hi-lighted this passage before in my own Bible. It reminds me to keep my appetites in check. I can tend to over-eat. I can tend to spend way too much money or time obsessed with food. If you are feeling a little smug at how the actual belly doesn’t control you, be careful. There are also other appetites that can keep our minds too focused on earthly things. I am drawn to cars (old and new). Maybe you have a hard time avoiding the mall or online shopping. As we live in a very secular culture, our “appetites” are constantly being stimulated, and if we’re not careful, “our belly will replace our God.”
Just thinking today about “them” and “me.”
Blind me with Your radiance, dear God, so that I can keep my sights set on the heavenly things that our Lord and Savior Jesus modeled for us. Amen.