Read Philippians 1:19-30.
Apart from Jesus and Job, I don’t know anyone else from the Bible who has suffered more than Paul. This man was nearly beaten to death more than once, was imprisoned for his faith, bit by a snake, shipwrecked, and a hungry vagabond.
Yet, you can see in his letters he has one ambition after coming to Christ . . .
To make Him known and bring Him glory.
Image Credit: Bethan, Creative Commons
He is literally weighing out the benefits of staying on Earth and getting beat up again to labor for the LORD or leaving the Earth to be in Heaven with God. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Um, hello? Paul! You are crazy. People are trying to kill you and you still want to go out and proclaim Christ.
Paul’s greatest aim in life is to see God glorified. So much in fact, that he tells the Philippians in verse 27, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”
This message is for us today as well. God’s greatest desire for us on Earth is to labor for Him, live in a manner worthy of wearing His name, striving in unity, side by side. Our greatest aim in life should be knowing Christ and making Him known.
Part of knowing Him is sharing in His suffering. If we learned anything from Chapter 1, it’s that suffering is a part of the Christian life. It’s the part all of us would prefer to do without, but I think if we’re honest, it’s suffering that makes us grow in Christ and lean on Him more.
Paul shows us the way to suffer well and find joy and peace in the midst of pain is by keeping an eternal perspective. When we can meditate on who God is and what He has planned for eternal life, our perspective for suffering on Earth will change. Remembering “to live is Christ and to die is gain” is how we can press on through hard times.
1. What are some of the things Paul lists in chapter 1 that should mark the Christian life?
2. What does it mean to life in a manner worthy of the LORD? Use Ephesians 5:1-21 as a guide.
3. Paul tells us that when we suffer well, it is a sign to non-believers of our salvation (v.28). What is your attitude in suffering? How can you be both honest in your pain and yet represent God and bring glory to Him?