by Barry Newton
Can we read, without hearing Julie Andrews’ voice, “When I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so sad”? Like the song, “My Favorite Things,” Paul’s Philippian letter encourages rejoicing and prescribes a song. However, a sharp distinction exists.
Unlike the Sound of Music’s spoonful of sugar where each individual meditates upon his or her own favorite things, Paul’s song in Philippians 2:5-11 provides an illustration of “each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). This love song, filled with lyrics that perhaps the Philippian Christians had even sung, could guide them in conducting themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel with those who opposed them.
As Paul’s pen began to scratch out these powerful lyrics, they described Jesus’ loving attitude spilling forth in his actions. Rather than selfishly clinging to his own rights, Jesus let go and took on the nature of a servant even to the point of obediently dying on a cross. Jesus had not only mouthed the words, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” he had obediently lived the song. Then God stamped his approval upon such selflessness, by exalting Jesus.
What would happen if Christians obeyed such a high calling to love? God’s people would live out their salvation as God worked in them achieving his purposes. The fruit of righteousness would replace grumbling. The light of God’s people would pierce the darkness of a depraved generation.
And yes, if such a song of love becomes how a person lives, they will join with Paul in rejoicing about the good being achieved despite their own circumstances.