Paul wrote this letter to the fledgling Philippian church in about 62AD while he was in prison in Rome. The story of the founding of the church during Paul’s second missionary journey can be read in Acts 16:11-40. It is a letter of love and appreciation for help and support he had subsequently received from them. His love for the new Christians literally shines out of this passage. He urges them to remain in the faith whatever happens to him and to them. Paul in fact was never released from prison and died a martyr in Rome. How precious must this letter have been to those people who owed Paul so much.
The verses which strike me are: v21-24: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain … I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ… but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”
Paul had achieved much in his life. He had travelled across the known world more than once and established churches wherever he had travelled. He had built up strong and loving relationships with the Christians in those places. At the same time, his relationship with God had deepened and been the very source of all he had done. He could not have accomplished anything in his own strength. So, as he sat in chains, under house arrest, having been beaten almost to the point of death on many occasions, shipwrecked and thrown out of many cities where he had tried to preach, we can imagine him weighing up his life and pondering his death.
As I get older, I find myself pondering what I have and am doing for the Lord, and how long I will be able to do that. Have I taken the opportunities which God has given me to further His Kingdom? Not always. Have I encouraged those younger in age and the faith to attain more for Him than I have been able to do? Sometimes. Have I loved others even to my own limited capacity? Not often, if I’m really honest.
So, what can I do?
I can use letters like this for inspiration. When life is not going the way I planned, I can pray to rise above my own concerns in order to do something loving for someone else. Whether I live or die, I have Jesus to turn to. This is not the case for those I meet as I go about my daily life.
Lord, I pray that today I may show some love or joy to someone who does not know You.