“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:18b-21
In this passage to the Philippian believers Paul is addressing his current situation as a prisoner in Rome, and his resolve found in the Lord through the Holy Spirit. There are so many different emotions that Paul must be going through as he processes all that is surrounding him at this moment. And yet, his words are resolute and assured, that his hope is in Jesus Christ for not only this life, but for the next as well.
Believers, if the Lord tarries, we will face death. Each and every one of us must understand this will occur in the future. This understanding may be put on hold by the things of this world, but it is a reality that is coming. We may look to the good things of life: children, money, food, family, etc. and we may look to bad: disease, addiction, poverty, etc. but no matter where we are focused, time is ticking away.
And here in this letter, Paul is in one of those moments and yet, through the Holy Spirit, he uses it to encourage not only the Philippians, but also to encourage us now as we read this wonderful text.
Paul says that he will rejoice because of what he knows. So what does he know? Why can he rejoice in his current situation in life?
He knows that the Philippians are praying for him, and more so, he knows where he has placed his life. If someone said “Paul, aren’t you worried you might die?” He could respond, “I died on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19), Paul died that day and now only Christ lives within me. My flesh is an earthly tent (2 Cor. 5:1) and I long for the day to see my Savior face-to-face.”
That is what Paul could say. But can we?
There is much that is still a blessing in this world, and they have been mentioned above: family, friends, etc. and yet, all of these things pale in comparison with the joy that leads to rejoicing that Paul has. Every believer who has died to themselves is aware of this same joy.
And while we are aware of this joy, we need a consistent daily reminder of it in our lives. This is why it is so vitally important that believers pray, that we read the Scripture, that we meditate on the truth of God reminding ourselves of His great grace and our great joy!
The joy that Paul is referencing, the same one that believers know, is the joy of the grace of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The fact that all of mankind is born sinful and separated from God, and yet God in His majestic glorious grace saw fit to step out of heaven and become flesh so that He could obediently and joyfully die a death in our place so that we might become sons and daughters of God (Phil 2:5-11).
That…is…grace. That is why Christians have joy! Because we know who we are, we know our thoughts, we know our mind, the words of our mouth, the things we feel in our flesh and bones and we know that justly and righteously we deserve Hell, and yet…we get grace!
Therefore, no matter the circumstances, whether beneficial or detrimental, our joy is not moved, it is not shaken, because circumstances did not dictate whether or not we received it, and they do not dictate whether or not it comes to fruition; it is all accomplished by a sovereign God who is all-powerful and who reigns in unapproachable light (1 Tim 6:16). This Jesus, who died for us and that tells us in His Word of His great love for us sinful people, He is the One where our joy is found.
The prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 did not worry about his dirty clothes, his smell from the pigs, or his overall appearance. Why? Because he was in the arms of his father, and he was secure in who he was because of whose he was.
Paul says that he hopes “…Christ will be honored in my body whether by life or by death…” and the question we should ask ourselves is, “Is this true for me?” Do I honor Christ in my body?
The question isn’t asking you or guilting you into a workout routine or diet, but simply, do we honor Christ in our bodies?
How are our thoughts? Our actions? Our interactions with others? Are the things that we are doing, saying, thinking honoring to the Lord?
Perhaps occasionally they are, and other times they are not. This world pulls and pushes our beliefs held in Christ and if our eyes are not fixed on the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), then shortly we will be off the path and looking in this world for our joy that can only be satisfied in Christ.
If we seek to honor God with our bodies, we must also do so with our hearts and minds. We must seek the joy that is found in Christ and consistently, even hour by hour remind ourselves of the grace that flows from Christ Jesus.
So today, are you filled with the joy of the Lord? If not, then seek His face, spend time in His Word, remind yourself of the goodness of God and the sweetness of His grace.
We may be fully aware of Christ, and yet not honoring Him in how we live. Ask yourself if your life is one that is honoring to the Lord. Is it fully His? Have you died to yourself and your desires and enlisted fully in the joyful service of Christ?