As we continue our study of Philippians, in chapter 1: 3-18, we find Paul praying for these Christians with whom he shares a gospel fellowship and states his confidence of their salvation. He prays that this fellowship and the love they share will be full of the knowledge and discernment that will lead them to live holy lives. Paul recounts that he is a prisoner in chains which only seems to increase the boldness of his preaching. Although he does feel that some preaching is wrongly motivated, Paul rejoices that Jesus Christ is proclaimed. Today I will focus on the remaining verses in chapter 1, 19-30.
Paul’s priority is to serve Christ and he feels he will gain greatly when he dies, but we see here his priority is to live for Christ until such time he is called home.Verses 19 and 20 offer an interesting question for us to ponder over.
Paul speaks of his salvation. What does it mean to him? Is Paul one of those people of eternal optimism, believing the situation he is now in will end with his release. That won’t fit here because Paul goes on to say he is not sure if he will live or die. Does it have to do with his salvation in heaven? The situation in which Paul finds himself provides an opportunity to conduct himself in such a way to be a favorable witness on Judgement Day. How we meet challenges to our faith in the present will be a witness for or against us in eternity. Just consider that maybe where Paul finds himself at that moment is exactly where God wanted him to be. We may find ourselves in situations that don’t bode well for us but would be useful to God in that present time. Our difficulties in the present will be rewarded with joy and peace in eternity. Paul also has two very powerful means of support. He has the prayers of his friends and time and time again Paul asks for those prayers of his friends. There is nothing so welcome in times of personal troubles as knowing there are others presenting our needs before the throne. Paul never felt too good or too important to forget how much he needed their prayers. There was something else which in today’s vernacular could be called Paul’s ace in the hole. Paul knows that he has the support of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit is with us in times of difficulty and will be with us till eternity as promised by Jesus Christ. It is Paul’s mission to never be ashamed of the gospel or to be marginalized by silence or cowardice behavior. I believe that all believers should strive to be effective in the sharing of the gospel. We must strive to live a holy life, for once we have chosen Christ we must be ever mindful that others not only judge us but our behavior brings either glory or shame to Christ.
As we continue on through these verses we encounter the eternal question to live or to die. Paul then gives us these words….For living is Christ to me, and death is gain. That day on the Damascus Road was in Paul’s mind the day he truly started living, his life began on that very day. It is not hard for us to relate to this, because for all of us who have found Christ, it was the beginning of life for us also. It has been said that from the day we are born we began the journey to death. For a Christian the day our life begins in Christ we are on a journey to join him in eternity. We are weak but Christ will give us the strength for life. And we will be made perfect in our weakness. Christ is the beginning and the end, without Christ there is nothing left.
The priority of course is to preach the gospel and the purpose is to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ and to live lives worthy of the gospel and to strive together, standing up to persecution without fear by God’s grace. Next week we will break away from Philippians for a short time but in the future we will return for some more of this lovely letter to the friends in Philippi. Come back next week and visit with us in the Pew.
Life is Good