Monday, January 21, 2008

Should I stay or should I go now?

As I read Philippians 1 today I was captivated by Paul’s unselfishness when he stated:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. Philippians 1:21-26
While it would be better for him to be with Christ and not be living in this world that has handed him much suffering and hardship, Paul was drawn by a God-given heart for others to stay and to minister. Paul could have leaned toward his personal spiritual tank being filled, but instead he chose to think of others and to serve them at a continued personal cost.

Is this our attitude? Are we willing to endure hardship and even forgo some of the personal benefits of God’s blessings in exchange for serving others and ministering the gospel? Most of us don’t have a clue what it means to suffer for Christ. In America we would define giving up some of our time, being labeled a Christian by our co-workers (Oh my), and tithing the whole 10% as extending ourselves for God. For the American “Jesus Freaks” it might even mean downsizing our homes, cars, or lifestyles in order to serve God. But to Paul and most of the early Christians it meant beatings, whippings, floggings, imprisonment, and often death.

I suggest that we all need to have the unselfish attitude that Paul is expressing here and we need to be willing to lay down ourselves for others. Let’s not seek what will bring us joy or even give us those wonderful spiritual goose bumps, but rather let’s seek what will advance the gospel and show love to others. Believe me, then the true joy and spiritual goose bumps will happen.

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