20. THE POWER OF JOY IN THE PRISON OF PAIN IN PHIL.1:21-30 (part19)
THE PROVISION OF A PERSON PHIL.1:21-30
A PASSIONATE PROPOSITION V.21-23
CHRIST IS OUR LIFE V.21
OUR SUM TOTAL for to me to live is Christ,
OUR SIGNIFICANT TRIUMPH and to die is gain.
CHARACTER IS OUR LONGING V.22
OUR PRISON But if I live in the flesh,
To call our body a prison is not average language. It’s abnormal to feel like that, but as our body begins to decline with age and weaken with injury, we can drift into a penal attitude about our selves.
To live in the flesh in this context is not referring to our sinful inclinations. The flesh signifies our physical body.
Being morose and sullen was really not what Paul was feeling. Yes, he was chained in prison and yes; he was in a lot of discomfort and strain. He is making a contrast between what he could be facing, if Nero axed his life, or his approach if he’s released miraculously, in answer to prayer. If this opens up he explains the energetic hopes of his next move.
OUR PURPOSE this is the fruit of my labor:
We should be driven to live lives of impact, to be productive and beneficial to those around us. Our number one desire is to be effective in meeting others needs. Our job is to be a source of encouragement and to work at reinforcing the worth of those we cross paths with.
The thought is, if he doesn’t get the death sentence, and if he’s released from prison then he is looking forward to being effective for Christ in their lives.
OUR PERPLEXITY yet what I shall choose I don’t know
This phrase is unusual. I think it could be, I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I don’t know how this will work out.
CHOICE IS OUR LIMITATION V.23
OUR PUZZLE For I am in a strait betwixt two,
OUR PARADISE having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ
OUR PRINCIPLE which is far better:
Mystery as to what’s going to happen in our life can be a drawback. It’s nice to know what is around the corner and to be able to anticipate how things are going to unfold.
Paul was extremely effective and industrious. He enjoyed life but he’d been beat up and stressed out to the max, physically and emotionally. Yet he said he had learned how to cope with the extremes of humiliation and exaltation. Exaltation for him was not a cruise through the Bermuda triangle nor was it tooling along in a convertible in Palm Springs.
A PERSISTENT PROPOSAL V.24-26
THE REQUIREMENT V.24
OUR ACCEPTANCE Nevertheless to abide in the flesh
OUR APPRAISAL is more needful for you.
Paul’s tug of war was not based on a chronic difficulty with depression. His antagonistic enemies viewed him as a problem to humanity that required extermination. They chased him from city to city. He was beaten, whipped, and stoned many times. Now again opponents who hated him for what he stood for had tossed him in jail.
He felt pulled from two sides by a persistent challenge: One pull was his desire to be with Jesus in glory. The other side that pulled him was the joy of serving others for the glory of Christ.
THE REWARD V.25
OUR CERTAINTY And having this confidence,
OUR CONNECTION I know that I shall abide and continue
OUR COOPERATION with you all for
YOUR CHANGE your furtherance and joy of faith;
R.C. Lenski writes: “One often simply yields to his own personal desire over against something that is really more necessary. Paul’s wording shows that he clearly distinguished between the two and does not yield to the former. He adds no undue weight to his personal desire; he subtracts no weight from the special necessity. In other words, if death is to be his lot, he will be happy in having his desire fulfilled, but if life is to be his lot, he will be happy in serving others with the fruit of his further work.”
THE RETURN V.26
YOUR CHEER That your rejoicing may be more abundant
YOUR CONTEXT in Jesus Christ for me
MY COMING by my coming to you again.
To be motivated to increase the joy of others is an incredible distinction. Especially when Paul was in a radically uncomfortable situation. These people in the Church of Philippi were his children in the faith. As a father he desired their joy, he wanted to be with them to build them up. Paul was not self-occupied. He was a man of self-denial.
We live in an age of shirking in the church where we avoid each other. Getting involved in the personal details of one another’s life takes patient sensitive transparency. Caring for others takes time. We’d have to set aside our own schedule of priorities and replace it with people and their unpredictable details.
Paul like Jesus was looking for the lost coin, the pearl of great price, the wounded hearts and the straying sheep. He was interested in the things that burdened others. His calendar was never too full for others. He was not to busy for the sorrow of others. He wanted to inspire with the joy of Jesus for every need.
In 2Cor. 12:14-15 Paul wrote: I am ready to come to you; and I will not be a burden to you: for I seek not yours, (I don’t want your money or you’re stuff) but you: (I want what’s best for you) for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, (children shouldn’t have to save for their parents needs) but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
Paul was interested in people, absorbed in their heartbreak, attentive to their needs. He was involved, alert and available.
We live in strange times in the local church. Pastors and Elders are
often too busy to notice the heart needs. There’s avoidance, dodging and circumvention. There seems to be a peculiar ducking away from the hunger and hurt of people.
Paul was very busy; He wrote lengthy letters, studied hard and also was working at a tent making trade yet his priority was people and their need.
Jesus told His disciples, don’t send the people home. He said feed them. The disciples complained that they only had a few loaves and a couple of fish. How in the world were they going to feed thousands of people? Jesus said to start circulating among the people with what you have. The people were fed as the Lord worked through the small things.
A PLEASURABLE PROSPECT V.27-30
APPROPRIATE CONDUCT V.27
CONSISTENT BEHAVIOR Only let your conversation be as it
becomes the gospel of Christ:
In Shakespeare’s history play Richard the II, an unfortunate king brings great trouble on himself by failing to live up to his responsibilities. He is a legitimate king; but he is impetuous, passionate, and arbitrary in the administration of justice. Such behavior is unfit for one who wears a crown, and Shakespeare tells how eventually he lost it. Privilege brought responsibility, but Richard II did not fulfill it.
The three Shakespeare plays involving King Henry V—Henry IV (parts I and II) and Henry V—show just the opposite character. In his early youth Henry is irresponsible, reckless and immoral. He spends much time carousing with old John Falstaff.
Then the old king dies, and Prince Henry begins to live as befits his kingly status. He does not hold the crown through any virtue in himself. But having the crown, he vows to live worthy of the possession:
The tide of blood in me
Hath proudly flowed in vanity till now.
Now doth it turn and ebb back to the sea,
Where it shall mingle with the state of floods,
And flow henceforth in formal majesty.
Becoming king produces a change in Henry. From this point on Henry V lives as one of the noblest kings of England.
It is a privilege to be introduced to Jesus Christ. It’s an advantage to have His Word and books that show us His great life, His loving instruction and details describing His precise principles. We are blessed with facts of what He has done for us. We’re surrounded with opportunities to learn His ways. Are we living up to our privileges? Are we learning all we can of Christ’s life and His devotion for others? Are we sharing His life with needy ones around us or are we just wasting our energy to live for personal thrills and amusing experiences?
COHERENT BEHAVIOR that whether I come and see you or
else be absent, I may hear of your affairs,
The greater the privileges the greater are our obligations. Paul was not only involved in their inner heart necessities; he wanted to hear that they were continuing in the individual motivation regarding consistent behavior.
CEASELESS BOLDNESS that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one
mind striving together for the faith of the gospel
Do we stand together boldly against increasing antagonism? There is growing hostility all around us, and gospel opposition is unflinching and determined.
The way to unite boldly is to fight by faith. That means bonding together in determined, incessant, faithful prayer. We need to meet together in love by supporting each other through fellowshipping in the Holy Spirit. The only way to be one in mind and purpose is by spending time with each other in the Word and prayer.
Paul said he would gladly spend and be spent for the good of others. Jesus wants us to spend time with one another, quality moments with each other’s needs and concerns, gathering to comfort and encouragement in our walk in Christ. Striving together for the faith of the Gospel.
ASSERTIVE CONFIDENCE V.28
THE SHOCK And in nothing terrified by your adversaries:
It’s counterproductive and undermining to our faith to let the enemy of our souls alarm us with the entire decadent stir that is whipping up around us. There is nothing that should terrify us.
The political landscape shouldn’t get us all agitated. Aggressive faith isn’t all panicky. We’re not to get petrified or horrified by the times.
Rising wars, slaughters by terrorist, arrogant dictators expanding their tyranny and deception, unreasonable taxes, foolish astronomical spending, out of control inflation, riots, anarchy, perversion, immorality, murder of the innocent and mass senseless killing. Even the treat of unconscionable drone attacks by our own irresponsible government. Our security is in the Lord and His ability to calm the storm.
Aggressive, assertive insistent faith arms itself with specific consistent prayer.
THE SECURITY which is to them an evident token of perdition,
THE SALVATION but to you of salvation, and that of God.
We can’t surround the wagons and fort up in our shelters. We must bring the battle for human souls outside the borders of our local church. Into our jobs, our schools, our courts, our malls and stores and our entire world. We need to share our personal walk and relationship with Jesus, showing others what He has done for us, presenting the claims of Christ, sharing His promises and the great work of salvation from sins He has achieved for us. We need to live out by the power of prayer and the filling of His Spirit. This is how Jesus lives His life through us.
Jesus declares the real answers for a world that is on the brink of blowing up in a nation-by-nation collapse. His solutions are the only things that will bring results.
E. Stanley Jones wrote: “The early Christians did not say in dismay: ‘Look what the world has come to,’ but in delight, ‘Look what has come to the world.’ They saw not merely the ruin, but the resources for the reconstruction of that ruin. They saw not merely that sin did abound, but that grace did much more abound.
On that assurance the pivot of history swung from blank despair, loss of moral nerve, and fatalism, to faith and confidence that at last sin had met its match, that something new had come into the world, that not only here and there, but on a wide scale, men could attain to that hitherto impossible thing—goodness.”
Carl F. Henry wrote: “I am convinced that this offer of abundant life … has a scriptural ability to fascinate the shallow spirit of modern man and to coax him anew to a hearing of the claims of Christ upon his life.”
ADJUSTED CONDITIONS V.29-30
THE PROVISION For unto you it is given in
the behalf of Christ,
THE PURPOSE not only to believe on him,
TO SUFFER but also to suffer for his sake;
TO STRUGGLE Having the same conflict
TO SCRUTINIZE which ye saw in me,
TO SECURE and now hear to be in me.
When we live out the life of Christ and let His provision of life dwell in us and allow the control of His Spirit through us we will have a growing purposeful aggressive faith that shares His life and promises with every one we can.
The result of Christ being proclaimed through our live is that some will be attracted to Jesus by our speech. Others will be aroused to complain and we will have the privilege of rejection and suffering.
D.A. Carson explains: our change in character, our united stand in defense of the gospel, our ability to withstand with meekness and without fear the opposition that we must endure, constitutes a sign. That sign speaks volumes, both to the outside world and the Christian community. It is a sign of judgment against a world that is mounting opposition; it is a sign of assurance that as believers we really are the people of God and will be saved on the last day.