Today is day 86 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.
In addition to Ephesians, Philippians was also written from a Roman jail cell. Kowing that, you may expect a letter of worry, doubt, and self-pity…but that’s not how Paul rolls. Amazingly, Philippians is a letter of joy!
Paul writes to the Philippian church because they were such a huge blessing and encouragement to him. Chapter 4 says that they were the only church that contributed financially to Paul’s missionary work. But imagine if you found out the missionary you were supporting was arrested and thrown in prison and there was nothing you could do about – you might panic, right?
In his letter, Paul tells them not to worry about him – his suffering has actually turned out to be a platform for ministry! The Message says, “They didn’t shut me up, they gave me a pulpit!” – 1:20. He goes on to say that the Palace guard is becoming aware that his chains are in Christ. After all, he’s not chained to the Roman guards – they’re chained to him! They’re literally a captive audience!
Paul’s newfound prison ministry is so effective, that by the end of the letter, he says that some of the Roman soldiers, who are now Christians, send their regards to the Philippian church as well! It’s amazing how God can use some of the darkest periods of our lives for Him!
The main question that often pops into my mind when reading Philippians, is “How did Paul maintain such a great attitude even in the midst of suffering?” The answer is found in what he’s living for…
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21
Everything in Paul’s life filtered through Christ. Since he had that focus, he was able to see things from an entirely different perspective than many people do. That includes death. You won’t bump into many people who use the phrase, “to die is gain.” If they do, they’re probably not the most joyful people. So how was Paul able to say it and mean it? Again, it goes back to what (and Who) his life was wrapped around in the first place: Christ. Had it been anything else, he couldn’t say that…
To live is MONEY, to die is to BE ETERNALLY DESTITUTE.
To live is FAME, to die is to BE FORGOTTEN.
To live is SUCCESS, to die is to FAIL FOR ETERNITY.
Everything changes depending on how you fill in that first blank. However, because Paul lived for Christ, he could rest in Him and rejoice in Him.
How would you fill in that blank?
“For to me, to live is ___________________…”