“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
Break my heart for what breaks Yours, Jesus.
It is so evident throughout this book of Philippians that Paul has a deep affection for these people and this church. His encouragement for them to continue on in the gospel, to live in unity, to look Jesus and run towards the Father echos throughout this letter.
Then we see this brief turn in verses 18-19, we see him share his heart and how it’s been broken over the reality that some people do not walk with Jesus. He describes these people as “enemies of the cross of the Christ.” Paul’s heart is so clearly displayed in this moment. His heart as a shepherd and disciple-maker… he longs for no one to walk as an enemy. It breaks his heart. It brings him to tears to think about the reality that there were people who didn’t walk with Jesus.
There are two things I want to touch one. First, an enemy of the cross. What does that look like? Paul says, “their end is destruction, their god is their belly and they glory in the their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” People who do not know Jesus and do not see the cross as their salvation, are ruled by their bodies, the world, the “now” and their desires. I don’t know about you all but I would say that on any given day, I could be described in that same way… living for my desires and the world. But this is a reminder for us that we are no longer enemies of the cross. The cross, instead is our greatest hope and the means of salvation and healing. So in walking with Jesus, we align our lives with the cross. We set our mind on eternal things. We surrender our desires to the Father and trust Him with every part of our lives. This is living in alignment with the cross.
The second thing I wanted to touch on is this: what is your response in thinking about the people who walk as enemies of the cross? Is it like Paul’s, one of heart brokenness and concern? Do you find yourself less consumed by this reality and more consumed by things of this world? If I can be honest for a minute, I would say that typically I am less concerned for those who do not know Jesus yet. I find myself more concerned about my life, my world, my relationship with Jesus… do you see a theme? “Me- me- me.” I don’t want live my life as a follower of Christ thinking more about myself than others (that’s the exact thing Paul has already addressed in previous chapters of Philippians!). So maybe take a moment and just ask yourself that question… how do you feel about those that walk as enemies of the cross? There is no shame for those that Jesus calls His own, so friend, bring that honest answer to the foot of the cross and boldly ask Jesus to break you heart for what breaks His.
Have you walked as an enemy of the cross in any way this week? Do you feel like you’ve walked your whole life as an enemy of the cross? There is hope, friend. In Jesus Christ alone. Bring that to Him. You can change that right now. “Jesus. I need You. I don’t want to walk as enemies anymore. I want my life to be changed by You, to be changed by the cross.”
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