Paul used some military language in verses 27-29. In Philippians 1:30 he turns to athletic language when he talks about “Agony.” The verse is usually translated as “having the same conflict 05 jesus bloodwhich you saw in me and now hear is in me.” Grant Richison explains, “ ‘Conflict’ is an athletic term. It means ‘contest, agony.’ It was originally used for gladiators in competition. It denotes any contest or struggle. We get our English term ‘agony’ from this word. The Christian life is a struggle, a fight. There will be great opposition and therefore there will be great strain. The Christian life is not easy.”

Really, the struggle hasn’t changed in over 2000 years. We all fight the same battles. It’s the battle that began in the first phrase of Verse 27 and proceeds with military metaphor followed by athletic struggle. Let me go back to Verse 27 and pick up the opening phrase. It says, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” He’s addressing the collected church at Philippi. It’s a focus on the union and unity of the Spirit in the body of Christ. He’s addressing the gathering of people, but the only way for this exhortation to be lived out is in each and every individual. We need to fight the good fight. We need to go to war against anything that destroys the unity in the body of Christ. Our lives should be worthy of the calling. We should be like Shakespeare’s Henry V. He was a carousing drunken fool until his father died leaving him the throne of England. He realized his unworthiness and when he receives the crown he vows to live a worthy life. He says:

The tide of blood in me
Hath proudly flowed in vanity till now.
Now doth it turn and ebb back to the sea,
Where it shall mingle with the state of floods,
And flow henceforth in formal majesty.

And from then on Henry V becomes one of the worthiest and noblest kings of England—his noble heritage flowed from him with majesty. Kent Hughes comments on this. In his commentary on this verse he writes, “There is something of this idea in the opening lines of our text, though it may not be readily apparent. The line reads, ‘Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ’—which in effect is a call to individually say, ‘Let the tide of blood in me (the life of Christ) flow henceforth in formal majesty.’” Beginning in the next chapter Paul exhorts us to have the mind of Christ who humbled himself and gave himself for us. May we let that life blood flow through us!

For all previous daily devotions: