Have you ever approached a Bible study with a bad attitude? Or is that just me? That’s certainly how I felt when our church announced we’d be studying the Book of Philippians.
Of course, I have no issue with Philippians; it’s God’s Word after all. But my general impression of this letter was that it seemed like a lot of work—especially during a season when I was running on fumes. After a few funerals, walking with several friends through crises, and a string of illnesses were wearing me thin, I really wanted a pass from the charge to “run the race” and “press on.”
As I skimmed the text, my legalistic-leaning heart zeroed in on the commands in Philippians: boldly proclaim the gospel (even from prison), endure through suffering, put others first, don’t complain, discount any gain, press on, imitate and model Christ, think rightly, act rightly, and be content and strengthened through all of it. *whew*
Honestly, it sounded exhausting and not at all like what I was prepared to study. So, I avoided diving deeper into the book and hoped my devotions in the Psalms would give me the strength I needed to “do all the things.”
Eventually, I was tired of hearing the admonishments, well-intentioned and God-ordained as they were. I was tired and ready to take a break. I needed a fuller picture of the letter to the Philippians, so I sat down (albeit reluctantly) to dig deeper into the text.
As I read, however, I realized some things I had never noticed before. Each of the verses I felt was exhausting me also had a surprisingly comforting context.
If only I remembered the fullness of Scripture and didn’t read with an unhealthy mind, I would have seen grace laced in every command to obey. But unfortunately, our intellectual pride, stress, or poor mental health can often affect how we read and apply God’s Word.
I hope this article serves as that good news to someone who’s tired today.