Today's Reading: Philippians 1:3-11
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)
In today’s Epistle we read St. Paul’s opening exhortation to the Philippians. Two things stand out: a good work begun by the Lord in us, and fruits of righteousness.
We’re often hesitant to speak of any of our works as “good.” We know that we are sinful, that we fall short of the Glory of God and break His commandments daily. When we speak of ourselves having done a good work we always speak of it in the waters of Holy Baptism. There, with salvation dripping down our foreheads, the Lord made us good in His sight and began a good work in us. St. Paul is not speaking any differently in today’s lesson.
Next, St. Paul says we are filled with the fruits of righteousness. In the Garden of Eden God gave provisions for what man would eat. Only in man’s disobedience toward God’s heavenly buffet did sin enter the picture. Since that time, when Adam jumped to the dessert line before the main course, God has been busy redeeming His people with food. He did it in the wilderness with manna and He does it now with manna from Heaven: Jesus, the Bread of Life.
The fruits of righteousness are the body and blood of Jesus, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. This fruit undoes the sin of the fruit that Adam ate in Eden. This fruit from the Cross of Christ and it is placed in your mouths and bellies, redeeming you. God redeems us in the very way we made ourselves sinful. He loosens the bonds of sin and frees us from our corruption. What we made unholy, God makes holy.
Like the good work begun in us, the fruits of righteousness flow from Jesus. They flow right out of His side at Calvary! Blood, water and the Word from crucified flesh. The Lord chooses simple means and hides Himself in them, and then He delivers them to us at His font and at His altar for the forgiveness of our sins. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Open our eyes to see Your love’s intent, To know with minds and hearts its depth and height; May thankfulness be days in service spent, Reflection of Christ’s life and love and light. (LSB 788.6)