Passage: Philippians 1:12-18
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Partnering Together For The Gospel
Honoring Christ By Life Or Death
What do you want out of life? Comfort? Rest? Peace? Pleasure? Stuck in jail, facing what could be his last few days on this earth, the apostle Paul wanted the same thing he had always wanted: to honor Christ, whether by life or by death. His personal escape from death, imprisonment, or discomfort didn’t even register on the scale of his desires. For to Paul, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil 1:21). As we look at Paul’s radical perspective on life and death as a follower of Jesus, we’ll see how hope in the resurrection gives courage for today (Phil 1:18b-23), love for the church gives our lives purpose(Phil 1:24-26), and that our courage, hope, and love prove the gospel to our opponents(Phil 1:27-30).
First, our hope in the resurrection gives courage for today(Phil 1:18b-23). If I were unjustly thrown in prison, you can bet my greatest hope would be getting my freedom back. But when Paul says he’s confident that the Philippian’s prayers will turn out for his deliverance (1:19), what he really means is that he is confident their prayers will help him stand firm in courage and honor Christ with his behavior no matter what happens to him in jail (1:20). Paul doesn’t fear death. He’s not actively avoiding it. Death holds no terror for him because he knows death is simply the portal through which one day he will “depart and be with Christ” which is “far better” (1:23). Far from leading to apathy or retreating from the world, Paul’s confidence in his destiny enables him to face every challenge and danger with courage. May our faith in Christ produce this same “full courage” to honor Christ regardless of risks.
The courage produced by hope in the resurrection does not produce recklessness with our lives, because love for the church gives our lives purpose(Phil 1:24-26). Paul has been overwhelmed by Jesus’s love for him, and he’s excited to go see Jesus in a new way on the day that he dies, but Paul doesn’t have a death wish. Paul loves his brothers and sisters in the church so much that he won’t go seeking death, even if that delays a new kind of intimacy with Jesus. He is concerned about the Philippians “progress and joy in the faith” (1:25). Paul lives both to honor Christ by courageous obedience, and to love and lead the church through faithful service. May we too not be reckless or careless with our lives, but give ourselves to each other for each other’s “progress and joy in the faith”.
When we stand firm in this courage, striving together for the gospel, our courage, hope, and love prove the gospel to our opponents(Phil 1:27-30). Paul calls the Philippians to also live in a way that is worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27), because if they demonstrate that same courage, unity, and purpose, their lives will be the proof that backs up their message about Jesus (1:28b). The way that we face the challenges God allows into our lives (1:28-30) can be the greatest testimony we have to a disbelieving world about the reality of Jesus.
So then, encouraged and challenged by the example of Paul and the Philippians, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). May our courage that springs from hope, and our lives lived with Christ’s purpose, be an unshakable testimony to those who don’t yet know Jesus.