Stand Firm in the Lord

from the Philippians reading plan

Philippians 3:17-21, Philippians 4:1, Romans 16:17-20, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12, Titus 2:11–14

BY Guest Writer

The blaring siren and flashing blue lights jerked me out of my daydream. How fast was I driving, anyway? Turns out I was cruising along at 53 miles an hour in a 40-mile-an-hour zone. And it wasn’t the first time. There’s a reason my dad often told me I had “a lead foot.” This time, the police officer was firm yet gracious. He urged me to keep my speed down, but let me off with a warning instead of a costly ticket.

I may sometimes be too speedy, but nothing compared to Mario Andretti, the professional racecar driver. He would regularly race at speeds over 200 miles an hour. When asked for a racing tip, he quipped, “Don’t look at the wall.” His point was that a driver’s car follows what he is focused on. Where you look is where you go. If you keep looking at the wall, you’ll crash into it.

In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul is urging the impressionable believers to keep their focus on Christ. Paul longs for them to flourish in the faith, not to crash into walls of false teaching. In chapter 2, Paul warns the church against legalism. This deception rejected the sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness that comes from God through faith. Then and now, legalistic thinking insists that it’s a person’s best efforts and striving that make them right with God and with other people. I crash into a wall of legalism when I assume God merely tolerates me instead of remembering that He deeply delights in me as His beloved daughter. I crash when I’m critical and judge others for not meeting my personal expectations and preferences.

In chapter 3, Paul warns against another danger. While speeding away from the wall of legalism, some may over-correct and ricochet into the wall of licentiousness. This deception insists on throwing off moral restraint in hopes of satisfying all appetites and desires. “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is their shame,” says Paul (Philippians 3:19). Licentiousness says “anything goes,” that if it feels good, you should do it. I crash into a wall of licentiousness when I pridefully believe that I’m above temptation and fail to recognize my need for God’s good boundaries. I crash when I foolishly allow my desires to drive me to do things that hurt myself and hurt others.

At the root of all legalism and licentiousness is a worship of self above all else. Paul is, in essence, warning, “Don’t look at the wall!” Where you look is where you go. When we focus on ourselves, it’s not long before we crash. But this does not need to rule us. We can stand firm in the Lord as we remember that our true citizenship, our true allegiance, is in heaven with God (Philippians 3:20). May the Lord capture our hearts and affections, enabling us to focus on Him, worshiping Him alone. The One who made us is also the only One who can save us. Only He truly satisfies our deepest longings and desires, and only He can safely lead us home.

Patti Sauls lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband Scott and daughters, Abby and Ellie, where they serve alongside the people of Christ Presbyterian Church. Prior to living in Nashville, the Sauls planted churches in Kansas City and Saint Louis and served at New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. A trained speech therapist, Patti also enjoys serving behind the scenes, hiking with friends, and reading good books.

Post Comments (38)

38 thoughts on "Stand Firm in the Lord"

  1. Megan Carreon says:

    Help me Lord to focus on you today. I’ve been focusing on myself far too much and it’s made my soul feel tired and I’ve missed so much of the truth you whisper to me. Today, help me to focus on you.

  2. Bobbie B says:

    Keep your eyes on Christ. So easy to look around and compare myself. Let my aim and focus always be Jesus.

  3. Olivia Ramirez says:

    So good!!

  4. Olivia Ramirez says:

    Love this!

  5. Olivia Ramirez says:

    Stand firm!

  6. Susan Crosby says:

    Just today at church the pastor was talking about the meaning of communion and what it means… a common union … he was discussing this topic because as a church family we were getting ready to have the Lord’s Supper and lo and behold I found my mind wandering to organizing my closet. Oh how I can get so distracted. May I seek Him with a full and obedient ❤️

  7. Ashley P. says:

    I am currently reading a book that I highly recommend: ‘Free of Me: why life is better when it’s not about you’ by Sharon Hodde Miller. In it she describes more about how when we make life about us, it brings with it so much destruction. I’m finding I constantly make life—friends, family, people on social media, my church, my job—centered on me and reflections of me. But she offers some real wisdom about breaking free of constantly “looking at the wall”. It’s a great book, very helpful.

  8. K D says:

    “Where you look is where you go.” Lord help me to keep my eyes on you.

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