Let me begin by asking you some questions: What is the ONE thing that drives your life? What is your reason for living? What is one thing that if it was to be taken away your life would crumble? For some people their goal in life is to make as much money as they can. Ask them why, and they will tell you they just want to be rich. “The one who dies with the most toys wins” For others they life for fun – vacation and leisure is what defines their life. For others it is religion – they hate, oppress and kill in the name of their god, whether they are Hindu extremists in Orissa, India or Islamic fundamentalists in Somalia, or ISIS in Iraq…and many more are coming. For others it is popularity; they want to be seen, heard and talked about thanks for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like. Yet for others it is prestige; it’s about what kind of house the live in what kind of clothes they wear, even if it means living beyond their means.
Like Apostle Paul, the ONE thing that ought to define and drive a Christian’s life is living for Jesus Christ. Living for Christ should shape how we relate with those around us, our view of life and the world, and our lifestyles. It ought to shape our priorities; direct and regulate our relationships. It is living for Christ that should shape how we respond to whatever occurrs to us.
Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Paul was very heavenly minded that he wasn’t sure whether he preferred to live or to die. Philippians 1:23-24 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Have you heard of the statement that “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good”? Actually this is a misnomer. The Bible is full of stories of heavenly minded people who changed the world. Who has ever been more heavenly minded than Jesus Christ? Actually as a Christian, if you are to ever make any contribution of eternal significance, you have to be very heavenly minded. My understanding of “so heavenly minded” does not mean – a ghettoized Christianity. It is more than attending prayer meetings, bible studies and weekly worship services. A heavenly minded life is the God-life that pervades all spheres of life. It is the Christ-like life, so to speak.
How does Living for Christ Affect Us? – Phil. 1:12 -29
Living for Christ affects how we relate with our circumstances and with other people – gracious even to our enemies vs. competition (vv 12-18).
Paul had a big heart; if Christ was preached he was happy even if it was preached by his enemies. Our circumstances lie in God’s hands and he uses them to advance the gospel. People who lived in Uganda in the 1970’s will always tell you that church was perhaps strongest then when Dictator Idi Amin was ruling the country. We have countless stories from people where preaching the Gospel is restricted yet, the same gospel of Jesus Christ is thriving despite persecution. It is actually estimated that China has one of the biggest Christian populations in the whole world.
My circumstances, friends and even rivals should serv one purpose: to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. What a perspective! Every circumstance, every situation that we go through is a platform to advance the cause of Christ. How are you seizing the opportunities available to you to promote the cause of Christ?
Living for Christ affects our Life and Worldview: – Christ is all that matters, whether in life or death (18-26).
One way to know where a Christian stands is his or her response to death. Death is gain; life a fruitful labor. When you are in Christ, you know that death is simply a means to transitioning to another world. This, however, does not mean that we should simply sit and wait to die or that we should be there looking out for death but to know that everything we do here is a dress rehearsal for what is yet to come. So like Paul, our life is to focus on Christ; and our work in this world is fruitful labor that benefits the people of God. Our goal should be to honor and serve the Lord Jesus Christ whether in death or in life.
Living for Christ Affects our Lifestyle – v. 27 – 30
We have not only been called to believe in him but also suffer for him live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. God does not simply work in spite of our suffering; he works through our suffering.
God has called us to live a life worthy of the gospel (v.27). Does your conduct, your lifestyle, your speech, your relationships, your attitudes, and everything about you promote the cause of the Gospel? This command applies to us both as individuals and the corporate body of Christ. The Gospel is not merely preached with words but with our lives. He says that one way we can conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel is when “you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” (v.27). Unity is the strongest witness of the Gospel. It was Jesus’ prayer to the Father concerning his disciples and the church: John 17:21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
This should be our prayer, our goal and commitment. We must be committed to loving one another, and maintaining the harmony of the church. We should be committed to a life that reflects humility, gentleness, patience, understanding, peacefulness, strength, endurance, and gratitude to God in every aspect of our lives on earth.