you and your

Continuing on in Philippians 1, we arrive in verses 21-30. Springboarding from the discussion about the joy he finds in the knowledge that the gospel is being spread in spite – and because – of his imprisonment and other trials, St. Paul proclaims that “Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death” in verse 20 and then explains this revelation starting in verse 21: “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.”

Now, to be honest, I struggle a bit with this declaration at times. The living is Christ bit is downright hard. It’s hard to let Jesus have complete control of my life so that everything that I say, think, and do is directed by Him to bring glory to Him. I like to insert myself in both portions of that equation! And the dying is gain is, quite frankly, a difficult perspective to adopt when there are so many unknowns that go into when and how it will happen, particularly how much it could hurt. To be perfectly honest, I wonder how I will respond if death comes slowly or painfully.

Even so, it is my goal to adopt the same attitude as the apostle in this regard, which is why it is so important that I continue reading. And as I do, I find Paul explores a little bit about the basis for his perspective: “If I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me” (vs 22), and yet “I have the desire to depart and be with Christ – which is far better” (vs 23). Given the options, the apostle finally reasons in verse 24, “[For me] to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.” And then, in verse 25, he concludes, “Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.”

“For your progress and joy in the faith.”

We’ve already seen that the apostle’s own joy is secure; now, we learn that he is more concerned about the joy of the Philippian believers than the realization of his own joy. Would he love to end the hardships of this life and claim his eternal prize? Absolutely. But he wants to make sure that the Philippians and others like them are strong enough to survive and thrive in effective ministry before that happens.

Here is the question with which I am wrestling today: Is my joy so secure that I would desire to suffer trial, temptation, hardship, persecution, and more for a while longer so that others could have my same joy?

See, if there is one principle that I see throughout Scripture, it’s that I must be concerned with myself and my welfare only after I am concerned with that of others. Isn’t that the point of the Great Commandment? Isn’t that the prime example which John presented (i.e., that no one has greater love than laying down his/her life for another)?

Isn’t it only logical that I should be concerned with my joy only after I concerned with others’?

May my joy be so secure that I will commit to bring joy to others.


1 Response to “you and your”

  1. 1 Rachel Meyer August 30, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Working on my unit, death is always a struggle for me. I also wonder if my joy is so secure. I pray it is at least growing in that direction. So far , God always shows up when I fall short to help me do the right thing. Weaknes is such a hard thing to look at, isn’t it !! lol!


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