Whatever time I have, it's really not for me. It's for others.
Whatever treasure has been entrusted to me, it's not really for me. It's for others in serving the Lord. In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul wonders if it would be better for him to die and go to Christ or to continue living and serve the Church. Aware that there was still work to do, Paul embraced his calling to serve Jesus. Today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. Stephen Lawson shows us that true joy and effectiveness in the Christian life are found in offering ourselves in service to others. Well, in this session we are in Philippians chapter 1, and we're going to be starting in verse 24, though I'm going to begin reading in verse 23 because that's where the sentence actually starts. We left off last time at the end of verse 23. Paul writes, beginning in verse 23, "'But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better. Yet, to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress in joining the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.'" In these verses, Paul is torn between two paths that are open before him. The first path is the one he wants to walk. It is the desire to be with Christ, which would mean his execution under Caesar, but he knows that he would graduate to glory. He knows he would go immediately into the presence of Christ.
What could be better than that? The other path is that he would remain here upon the earth and serve the needs of the church and specifically the Philippians. And so he's torn between these two paths, but it's really the dilemma between what he wants to do and what he must do. That's really where you and I as believers live our Christian lives so often. It's a choice between what do I really want to do and what is necessary, and what is incumbent upon me because of what the Lord has assigned me to do. This is really the dilemma that every pastor faces, every elder and deacon, but also every parent, every grandparent, every missionary, every teacher. Every believer in Jesus Christ, you stand at this intersection.
So many times, I really want to do this. However, because of the responsibility that has been given to me, I know I must choose and do this, which will require far greater sacrifice. Surely, you can identify with this dilemma where Paul stands. Let's look at these verses beginning in verse 24 and see how Paul works through this. And in verse 24, we see Paul's concession. Paul's concession, he says, yet to remain in the flesh. And what that means is to stay here on the earth, to continue to live his life.
He says it's more necessary for your sake. It's necessary, Paul realizes, for him to stay in order to shepherd the flock of God, in order to preach the Word of God, in order to lead people to faith in Christ. And by this, Paul is not saying that he's indispensable and that no one else could preach the Word and no one else could pastor the flock.
We are all replaceable. However, Paul understands his unique relationship that he has with the church in Philippi. No one else was the founder of this church.
No one else laid the foundation for this church in Philippi except Paul. And so Paul understands, really almost like a parent to a child, no one else can be this parent. No one else can fulfill this obligation to nurture your faith in quite the way that I do.
And so Paul is saying that he is willing to stay, though he really much more desires to go and be with the Lord. Before we move on, I think there's a point of application to be made here. And it is this, as long as we are alive on planet earth, there is a work for us to do. And there is necessity that is laid upon us. As long as we are here, as long as we are breathing and God gives us capacity to serve Him physically, our shoulder needs to be to the plow.
And we need to be in the field. And we need to be serving the Lord. And the Lord has placed all of us in different places, and we all have different responsibilities. But whatever it is that the Lord has given to you to do, for God's sake, do it.
And for the sake of others, do it. And so Paul realizes that this necessity is laid upon him. He doesn't know how the outcome will be.
At this point, he is not certain whether Caesar will call for his execution or release him. But in his heart and mind, he has already decided that if I stay, then I'm going to pour myself into God's work. Well, this leads us now second to Paul's expectation in verse 25. Paul says, convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all. What he is saying here is that he has the expectation.
He doesn't know. There hasn't been direct revelation given to Paul about this. Or word has not come from Caesar's palace that he will be released. It's just that he has this sense, and it's really a positive expectation, that the Lord will release him to be able to serve the church and to serve the Philippians. And I think we learn from this about Paul that he was one of those Christians who goes through life with the glass half full, not half empty.
Sometimes, I think we become so negative in our thinking about how something is going to turn out that we have already almost conceded defeat before we have even come to that juncture. That's not how Paul is living his life. Paul has a very positive expectation. He knows that God's hand is upon him for good. And he knows that God is the God of providence, that God can open a door that no man can close. And he knows that God is with him and that God goes before him. And so, he is convinced that this probably or may work out for him to stay and remain and serve the church. That's paraphrased what Paul is saying in the first part of verse 25. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, that was his opinion, that was his anticipation, and continue with you all. He understood that if he does remain, it's not for Paul. If he remains, it's for others. That's the way we need to live our Christian life, that whatever time I have, it's really not for me, it's for others.
Whatever treasure has been entrusted to me, it's not really for me. It's for others in serving the Lord. And so, this leads now to Paul's mission.
And we see that in the middle of verse 25. He says, for your progress. And this word progress is a very important word in our understanding of this section. This progress is referring to their progress in sanctification, their progress in growing in Christ's likeness, their progress in growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is really the heart of every pastor and every spiritual leader. He desires that those entrusted to his care would be ever advancing in their faith. But it's also the desire of every parent and every grandparent that their children and grandchildren would be ever and always progressing in their walk with the Lord. It's what we desire for one another, even as we come to church and there are other believers surrounding us, we want not only for ourselves but for them to be growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, a quick survey of Philippians would reveal that this progress, and I don't really have time to turn to each of these verses, but just so that you're aware of it, Paul has talked about…he's prayed for their progress in love in chapter 1, verse 9, as well as their progress in the knowledge of God's will in chapter 1, verse 9, their progress in fruitfulness, chapter 1, verse 11, their progress in obedience, chapter 2, verse 12, their progress in humility, chapter 2, 3 and 4, their progress in the knowledge of Christ, chapter 3, verse 10, their progress in spiritual power, chapter 3, verse 10, etc., etc.
I've kind of given us enough of an overview of this. But Paul's desire is that they would grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Now, I want you to see something in your Bible. Notice the next two words, and joy. Do you see that?
The order is very important. Everyone wants joy. There is no joy until there's progress. Progress in Christ's likeness is what leads to joy.
Do you want more joy in your Christian life? Well, then pursue holiness. Pursue following Christ. Dive into the Word of God. Be more in prayer.
Become more like the Savior. Really, the root is progress. The fruit is joy. The cause is progress.
The effect is joy. And so, here we see that all joy is the result of growing or progressing in Christ's likeness. Paul is very precise with his words, and I think the order here should really capture our attention. And then he adds this little prepositional phrase, in the faith. And whenever we see the definite article V, it refers to objective faith, which is the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, the body of Christian doctrine. However, the definite article V is not in the original language.
It's a translator's decision. And so, this is really referring to subjective faith, which is trusting God, which is living with full reliance upon the Lord in every circumstance and in every situation. And what he is saying here, our progress will advance to the extent that we are truly trusting the Lord, and joy will flood our hearts as we are trusting in the Lord and committing things to the Lord in prayer.
Paul is making a very important point here. And so, as we come to verse 26, verse 26 is very difficult to translate out of the original language. I think most of you have an ESV, and it reads, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus. I preach out of the New American Standard, and the word order is different, and both the ESV and the New American Standard have trouble getting their arms completely around it.
It's just hard to go from one language to another language. And so, it's easier just to buy an English Bible than for you to take first and second year Greek. So, let me help us try to work our way through this. So, Paul says, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus. It reads in the New American Standard, and it almost sounds like Paul is giving himself a compliment, and that I'm so glad that your proud confidence in me is super abounding. That's not the way that this reads, and I'm going to give you the literal translation, the way this actually reads in the word order, that your boasting may abound in Christ Jesus, in me, through my presence again with you. And what makes it difficult is there are back-to-back prepositional phrases, in Christ Jesus and in me, and the English translations separate these two prepositional phrases, in Christ Jesus and in me, and as we go into the English, we have to separate them.
We're together in the original, but let me just give this to you as best I can. Paul desires that if he can remain, that he would be able to return to the Philippians and minister to them, and that his coming to them would cause them to glory in the Lord Jesus Christ, that Paul would simply be the instrument or the means by which they would glory in Christ Jesus. It's not that they would glory in Paul. We know that's not Paul's desire. Paul desires that all men everywhere know Christ and glory in Christ. And so here we see, really, what Paul understands to be his mission in life, his reason for existence. It is that men and women everywhere glory in Christ Jesus, boast in Christ Jesus, have their proud confidence in Christ Jesus. Now, he wants not just a little confidence in Christ Jesus. This says in the ESV, to ample cause New American Standard has may abound. And the idea here, it's a Greek word that literally means to super abound.
It means to exceed a fixed measure. In other words, that your confidence in Christ and that your glory in Christ and your excitement for Christ would far surpass whatever experience you've had to this point, that you are growing with greater enthusiasm for the Lord Jesus Christ. You're not cooling off, you're not backpedaling, but that you are advancing, but not just advancing a little, but that you are greatly advancing in your walk with the Lord and in your confidence in the Lord.
And that is what Paul is after. I know as a pastor, and I have preached now for fifty years, that when I go after the service out to the front door, and the people are filing out of church, and I'm able to say goodbye to everyone, and they can say a word to me, the greatest compliment for me to ever receive is not, Pastor, you're a great preacher. It's not, Pastor, that was a great sermon, I don't know how you do it. The greatest compliment for any pastor to ever hear. Pastor, what a great Savior we have. Ever since you came to be our pastor and ever since you began preaching the Word of God, my excitement level for the Lord is going through the roof. God is just getting bigger and bigger and greater. I don't know what I thought God was previous, but I see now His awesomeness, His holiness, His transcendence, His majesty, His glory like I have never seen before. My heart is just soaring to the heights of heaven. I cannot wait for next week to learn more about the Savior. That's exactly the heart of what Paul is saying here is that I want to come to you and I want to minister to you if the Lord releases me from this imprisonment, but my whole purpose in coming to you is that you will have ample cause to super abound in the glories of the Lord Jesus Christ, that your confidence and your faith and your trust in Him will exceed all previous boundaries that you have ever known.
So let me ask you this question. As you're living your Christian life, can you say that you're on the upswing, that you are advancing in grace, that as the old hymn says, every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before, and the effect that you're having on others? Rather than choosing the easy path, the path that you would like to go down, do you choose the more difficult path that requires greater sacrifice on your part so that blessing will come to others?
That's where Paul is, and that is what Paul is experiencing. So what would this look like for your life today? What are the choices that are before you? What do you need to say no to and say yes to so that greater good in spiritual blessings will come to the lives of others?
There must always be sacrifice on our part if it is to lead the spiritual good of others. As we wrap up this study, thinking about others and just pouring your life into others as Paul has testified here, the year was 1910. It was Christmas Eve, and the founder of the Salvation Army, a man named General William Booth, had become an invalid and was near the end of his life. He literally had raised up an army of evangelists who worked the street corners of London preaching the gospel, proclaiming the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, and performing many wonderful acts of charity and kindness towards others. They always had an annual conference in which all of the workers, and it was literally an army of workers, of gospel workers, would gather, and General Booth was unable to attend this year because of his physical illness. And so all he could do was send a telegram, and at this time the telegram service would charge by the word.
And so he was very frugal, and funds were very limited. And so he sent a telegram that would be read to all of the workers. It was given to the next man in charge, and he walked to the lectern, and he said, I now have a telegram from General Booth, our founder, to read to you.
And so he opened the letter, and to his amazement, there was just one word, others. That was the message. That was the message that was given to those workers, others.
It's not about you. It's about Christ, and it's about others. And so that's a message we need to continue to hear, because we live in a very self-absorbed culture, do we not?
A very self-indulgent culture. And we need to be continually, intentionally making choices to not pursue that which we really want to do, and instead to make choices of what we know we must do for the spiritual good of others. As long as you are here on planet earth, your mission is to be used by God for the spiritual good of others. May the Lord give you much grace and much strength in order to live not for yourself, but to live for others.
God bless you. The apostle Paul displayed that attitude in his own life, and he encouraged believers in every generation to do the same. Thanks for listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Tuesday. I'm Lee Webb, and this week we're featuring the latest teaching series from Dr. Stephen Lawson. It's a verse-by-verse look at Paul's epistle of joy, his letter to the Philippians. This series is titled Rejoice in the Lord, Paul's Letter to the Philippians.
In 42 messages, we learn how Paul describes the Christian life as an invitation to experience the joy of the Lord. We're making this six-DVD set available to you for the first time this week. So contact us today with a donation of any amount, and once your gift is processed, we'll send you the DVDs, but we'll also add the teaching series to your online learning library.
Then you can stream the series at any time. We'll add the digital study guide there as well. You can find us online at renewingyourmind.org, or you can call us with your gift.
Our number is 800-435-4343. I know that many of you listening right now subscribe to Table Talk, and I hope you're enjoying this month's edition on the doctrine of man, you know, understanding who we are. We're made in the image of God, yet we're shattered images because of our sin. Grasping that is vital to understanding the doctrine of Christ, and that's what this edition addresses. If you're not familiar with Table Talk, it's our monthly devotional magazine. Each issue contains feature articles, daily Bible studies, and columns touching on biblical and theological themes.
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To subscribe, just go to TableTalkMagazine.com. Well, tomorrow we'll return to Paul's letter to the Philippians. This is Christianity 101. This isn't like some upper-level discipleship Ph.D. program. This is pre-kindergarten, that this is expected of every believer upon entrance into the kingdom of heaven, that you will live now in a manner worthy of the gospel that you have claimed to believe. It's Wednesday here on Renewing Your Mind.
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