Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Philippians 1:22-26 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
Choices. We all have them. We all make them. Every day. Probably every minute of every day. Life boils down to choices. Choices boil down to motives. Motives always originate in the heart. The heart always determines our choices.
Jesus confirms this when He says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” We think we are making choices that make us look good, when those choices are really motivated by a heart that seeks value, affirmation, or personal reward. The heart must be transformed by the grace of God for the choices of life to be joyfully made.
Paul models that for us in today’s Scripture passage. He is faced with a choice. He is in prison, and is contemplating not being able to carry on His ministry. He is considering the value of staying alive and continuing to work for the Lord, or dying and going to be with the Lord Jesus forever.
Here are three principles from how we see Paul evaluate his options.
- He is so convinced of God’s purpose for His life that the ONLY options he considers are those that flow from God’s purpose. He considers everything about life on this earth to be an aspect of doing the Lord’s will. He does not need a list of a third or fourth or fifth option. He knows that joy can only be fully experienced when we live in the will of God and eliminate all other options.
- Both of Paul’s options are so right that it’s painful for him to make a choice. Paul made sure that every choice he made fit into one of these two categories: God’s will for life on earth, or God’s eternal reward waiting for him in glory. When we learn, like he did, to limit our earthly choices to these two categories, we will begin to experience consistent joy. There is no third category labeled “Personal”. If you have such a category, it is probably your joy-sucker.
- The choice to center his life on God’s will resulted in Paul being focused on what was best for others, not himself. Even though the choice to remain here on earth was less desirable than the option of being in glory with Jesus, he didn’t make the choice based on personal benefit. The option to stay in the flesh was considered ONLY for the benefit that would bring others. Their progress and joy in the faith was his motivation.
We often get hard-pressed between choices, but probably for the wrong reasons. We are weary from making choices between blue or red, big or small, cheap or expensive, and worst of all, between spiritual or personal. Paul reminds us to acknowledge that all choices fall into the spiritual or personal category, and that the key to joy in life is to make that fundamental choice.
Choose to eliminate all self-serving options. Choose to consider only those things that serve the purpose of Christ. Then, as Paul demonstrates, even the pain of making those choices will result in joy, because it becomes a win-win decision.