Philippians 1:12-30

What’s Your Life Goal?

For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Paul thought his death might be imminent when he wrote to the Philippian church. As it turned out, his martyrdom was at least seven years away. In fact, many scholars believe the apostle regained his freedom for two to three years and visited some of the churches he had planted across Europe and Asia. But God didn’t reveal that to him.

According to Philippians 1:23, Paul wanted to “depart and be with Christ which [he considered] better by far.” Yet he realized that what he desired might be the opposite of what God desired. As verses 24-26 indicate, Paul realized it might be “necessary” to remain on earth to encourage and teach others. “For your progress and joy in the faith,” he told the Philippians.

Paul explained what he meant by “to me to live is Christ” in verse 20—whether he lived or died he wanted Christ to be “exalted in [his] body.” The Greek word for exalted (NIV) or magnified (KJV) means “made conspicuous.” In other words, whatever drew people’s attention to God in the most irresistible way was more important to Paul than anything else.

This Scripture passage has always been difficult for me to grasp, much less implement. So many other glittery goals distract me from the one desire that consumed Paul’s life after he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. Nothing seemed to distract the apostle—certainly not those who preached the gospel out “of envy and rivalry” (v. 15). Neither was he deterred by floggings, shipwrecks, betrayals, exhaustion, or deprivation of any kind (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

No, I’m not a Paul. I’m much more like the Philippians—the ones he wanted to inspire. Maybe they also felt overwhelmed when they read his letter; perhaps they wondered how they could follow his example and do what he asked: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ … for it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (vv. 27, 29).

I may never achieve the single-mindedness of Paul, but I pray that God will enable me to live “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” For now, that’s my life goal. What’s yours?

DIG DEEPER:

When Paul said “what has happened to me” in verse 12, he was referring to the events recorded in Acts 21:15-28:16. Read some (or all) of those chapters. Ask yourself, “How many different groups of people heard the gospel because of Paul’s hardships?”

How would you complete this statement: For me to live is ______________ and to die is _______________ ? Consider what David wrote in Psalm 27:4 and Psalm 143:10 and what Jesus said in John 4:34 and John 8:29.

What does living “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” mean on a daily basis? Meditate on these verses: Romans 12:9-16, Ephesians 4:1-2, and Colossians 1:10-12.

Denise K. Loock

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