Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Philippians 1:19-30 -- What would YOU choose?

While reading through this last section of Philippians 1, I was struck by the way that Paul wrote as if he truly had a choice whether or not he would live or die. I don't think God was leaving it up to him, but I think he was really trying to share openly and honestly about how he was feeling as he faced certain death (and, come to think of it, we ALL face certain death, it's only a matter of when). Verse 21 sums up his thoughts well.

 "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

I've actually reflected on this verse many times in my life. How can dying be greater than living? Well, because of Christ. He has turned death into a thing of victory and joy, if we belong to Him. But life has its perks, too. We are placed here for a purpose. Bringing glory to God is the only way to have fulfillment. It's the only thing that satisfies. That's why he says that to live IS Christ. And, Christ IS life. There is not one without the other. But, Paul was honest when he said,

"I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account."

Is that what you would say? Given the choice...where would your preference lie? Thankfully, none of us have this decision to make. HE is the one who numbers our days and knows exactly how many breaths we will take on this side of eternity. And I'm glad it's not my decision, because it's an impossible one. Of course, being with Jesus is far greater....but with our ties here, our loved ones, specifically spouses and children....how can we not desire to stay here as long as possible? 

All I can say is, my desire is to bring God the absolute greatest amount of glory possible, and I believe that was Paul's heart as well. His own personal desire was to be with Jesus as soon as possible. But he also knew that there was more work to do. He had more encouragement to give. More praying and teaching to do. His time wasn't up just yet. He chose to make the most of his time, and serve with every moment he had left. 

I want every day of my life to count for His Kingdom. Because, let's face it, we don't know which day is our last one on earth. And if we did, wouldn't it change a whole lot about how we are living now? Or would we just wait until the last few weeks and then begin to get our acts together? I think this is why we aren't allowed to know. So that we can have that sense of urgency on each new day we are given. This life isn't about us. And yet, we are so easily swayed by all the distractions of the world that basically scream at us: "Life is about YOU. Get all your comforts and pleasures while you can because the time is short!" And isn't that what almost everyone does? We spend our time, money, and energy on building up our little earthly kingdoms--so quickly forgetting that this life is temporary and the stuff that surrounds us is just that. Stuff. That we can't take with us when we leave, and won't matter when we get where we're going anyway. 

My question was, "What would you choose?" Well, we can't choose the length of our life. But we CAN choose what we are going to do about the time we have! This is the ultimate choice. Here was Paul's desire for the Philippian believers. I think it's pretty clear what choice he made with his life, and what he wanted all believers to make as well:

"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 ind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel." (vs. 27)

Thoughts are welcome! Please share what God is teaching you!

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