We are all familiar with the Maytag brand, and most if not all of us have probably owned a Maytag appliance at one time or another. Maytag was founded in 1893 with the introduction of the washing machine--a sweet luxury compared to the crude washboards of previous times. Over the years they branched out into dryers, dishwashers, stoves, refrigerators and even garbage disposals. Maytag's successful reputation is grounded in its manufacture of trustworthy and reliable appliances that people need and use every single day. It's hard for us to imagine life without just one of these modern-day conveniences. In our spiritual lives, the disciplines that we practice daily are also the habits that we shouldn't be able to live without if we are seeking to be like Jesus.
Paul rejoiced in the many ways that the believers at Philippi were successful as followers of Christ because of the faith habits and actions they practiced every day. Prayer, fearless preaching of the Word, promotion of the gospel, worthy conduct, unity, and even suffering for the sake of Christ were the areas that Paul addressed because it was hard for him to imagine his life or theirs without these crucial foundations of spiritual strength. Now we might think to ourselves, "These things are good, but I would rather imagine my life without the "suffering" part of that list." Yet, ALL these disciplines INCLUDING suffering, promote changes in us that are woven into the very fabric of the Spirit's sanctifying work in our lives. We cannot be molded into the image of Christ without prayer, without courage, without God's Word, without unity, without love and without suffering. Do we WANT to be like Jesus? Then our "striving together" as Paul described will be strengthened because of the help "given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ." (Phil 1:19) Like a Maytag, others will see the light of Christ in us because we are reliable, trustworthy and consistent. Our humility, our wisdom, our joy, our gentleness, our kindness and our patience, are only some of the "fruits of righteousness" that will come through Jesus Christ as Paul describes. When we live to the "glory and praise of God" (1:11), others will observe the fruits that we have that they don't want to live without. Our conduct will shine like Maytags in a world of washboards, and we'll be granted the opportunity to introduce others to the One who died to wash their crimson stains of sin. What a joy!
Heavenly Father, will you grant us wisdom to seek you in the daily faith habits and actions that speak louder than any of our words? Will you give us the boldness, power, unity and love that will shine the light of Christ to all those who need Him? Make our hearts open and obedient to you. Amen.