.I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith.
In Philippians 1:22-23, Paul described a dilemma he was facing. He said, “I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions.” What was his dilemma? He didn’t know whether he wanted to live or die. In verse 23, Paul described the advantages of dying and being with Christ. But Paul said there are advantages to living as well.
There are just some things you can do in this life that you can’t do anyplace else. Just think about all the advantages of being alive: engaging in a hobby, being with friends, for me sitting down with a big bowl of vanilla ice cream. But the advantages Paul talked about aren’t self-focused; they are God-focused. Notice what he said in verses 24-25: “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 and joy in the faith.” He was saying, “I want to stay here with you so that I can help you progress in your faith.”
Do you know it’s God’s will for you to progress in your relationship with Him? Are you doing that? Are you moving closer to God every day? Can you honestly say that you know more of God’s Word today than you did a year ago? Is your prayer life more intimate with God today than it was a year ago? Are you being more obedient right now to the commands of God than you ever have been? You are either moving closer to God or you are moving further away. Paul was saying to the Philippians, “One reason I want to stay on with you is to help you progress in your faith.”
Paul was facing a dilemma: “I don’t know whether it’s better to live or die. I can see advantages of both.” By the way, the only person who faces this kind of dilemma is somebody who has truly died to himself like Paul. He said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul was completely God-focused in his life. That’s why he had this holy case of apathy.
But the self-focused person is not like that. A person who is self-focused knows exactly the outcome he wants in every situation. If he doesn’t get that promotion, if he doesn’t have that relationship, if he doesn’t acquire that amount of money, then he gets depressed. It is only the person who is God-focused, who has as his life purpose to glorify God, who can say, “Whether I remain single or get married, whether I get the promotion or not, whether the test results come back positive or negative, I can see advantages in both situations.” That’s the joy of having a God-centered purpose in life. It allows us to rest in the sovereignty of God. It allows us to say, “God, I will leave the outcome of this situation in Your hands. Whatever happens, I believe Christ is going to be magnified.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Joy of Not Caring” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.