Up until this point in Paul’s letter he has introduced himself and prayed for the Philippians. It might be easy to forget that he was writing from a prison cell if he didn’t remind us in verses 12-15 that he is in fact being held captive.
What’s amazing is that he doesn’t ask them to pray for his release. He doesn’t ask them to help him escape. Nor does he lament his conditions and ask for pity.
Paul’s ability to live for a single passion, to fulfill a single purpose, and to focus on a single Person is incredible. Thanks to Mark B. for pointing this out in Bible study a few weeks ago, but all throughout the first chapter of Philippians we see Paul’s overarching purpose in life: the advancement of the gospel. Check this out.
- Verse 6: he thanks God for their partnership in the gospel.
- Verse 7: he commends them for their participation both in his imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
- Verse 12: what’s happened to Paul has served to advance the gospel.
- Verse 16: Paul is in prison for the defense of the gospel.
- Verse 27: let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel.
Don’t miss this. The fact that this is Paul’s mission is unbelievable. This is the same guy who stood by while Stephen was stoned for his belief in the gospel. Paul, the same Paul who is writing this letter to the Philippians, was complicit in the death of the first martyr. This same Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute and kill other Christians when the grace of God invaded his life and radically transformed him.
Don’t Miss The Point
There is a deadly difference between living your life for something that counts and living your life for something that doesn’t. It’s possible to live your life for a singular purpose…and completely miss the point.
For Paul it was the persecution of Christians. That was his gig and he was good at it.
In America this doesn’t typically manifest itself as religious persecution. But it might show up as a passionate pursuit of the American Dream. You might spend yourself in the never-ending quest for more.
More (you fill in the blanks).
Before we know it our singular purpose in life is comfort, stability, security, safety and the purpose of advancing the gospel suffers.
Once his heart was changed, Paul’s life was laser-focused for a greater purpose and this allowed him to be extremely effective. All of his passions and purposes were filtered through one passion and purpose: advancing the gospel of Christ.
Everything was funneled through the filter, “How can this be used to advance the gospel?”
There is extreme power in living for one thing.
We need bankers and teachers and construction workers and accountants and doctors and lawyers. Those aren’t bad things. But don’t let the pursuit of those things deter you from the ultimate purpose of your life: advancing the gospel. Rather, let those pursuits fuel your ability to advance the gospel.
Be the best teacher at your school.
Let your excellence in construction point to the excellence of Christ.
Be truthful and open-handed in your dealings as a banker or an accountant so that you don’t jeopardize your ability to spread the fame of Jesus.
As a doctor, don’t be concerned with just the physical well-being of your patients. Their spiritual well-being is far more important.
But most of all, don’t let these pursuits derail you from your one true pursuit.
Circumstances Don’t Control You
Living for a singular purpose also serves to free us from our circumstances. Paul is writing from jail and what he says in verses 12-13 is profound.
[BLOCKQUOTE] “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.”
Here is a man in prison and, because his life is dedicated to the pursuit of a single passion, even his imprisonment serves to advance that cause. He says that his imprisonment has actually worked out for the better because now all the inmates and all the guards have been able to hear about Christ! Not only that but in verse 14 he says that all his imprisoned brothers in Christ have been emboldened to spread the gospel without fear.
What seemingly insurmountable circumstances in your life are keeping you from fulfilling your purpose? Why are you allowing this to happen? It may be that God has placed these circumstances in your life for a reason. It may be that those circumstances could be used to advance the gospel. But if your purpose in life is anything else the spread of the gospel will suffer.
Making It Personal
How can your sickness be used to advance the Kingdom?
How can your job be used to advance the Kingdom?
How can your passions be used to advance the Kingdom?
How can your influence be used to advance the Kingdom?
What about your house?
I have a feeling these verses will resurface in our study on Philippians, but the Bible says in Genesis 50:20, “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,” and again in Romans 8:28, “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
There’s no limit to what God can use to advance His cause. There is a revolution happening. God is on the move. He wants you to be a part of it.
Don’t miss it.