Read and pray through Philippians, chapter 1, specifically, Philippians 1:24-26.


Reflection | Previously, Paul confessed his death wish to the Philippians. His desire to depart does not come out of any intention of taking his own life or because he is wanting to just escape everything here. Paul simply recognizes that to be fully united with Christ is far better than to only see and know Christ in part. Death is not something Paul fears because for him, death is but a gateway to the beginning of his next life, his new life in perfect communion with Jesus.


With verse 24, as Paul finishes this thought, he adds an important “but.” While the better option is unquestionably to be with Christ, Paul acknowledges, “it is more necessary that I remain in the body.” Paul is “convinced of this” – so assured this is what will end up happening that Paul adds, “I know that I will remain and continue with all of you” (v. 25).


Why is this so? In order to stay and serve the needs of the Philippians – for the good and the growth of the Church. Looking beyond his own self-interest – what would be best for him – Paul focuses on the benefit of others. His specific attention is on “your progress and joy in the faith.” The word “progress” evokes the idea of growth. Particularly, the aim is for growth “in the faith,” in the knowledge and experience of Jesus Christ. In other words, Paul knows he is not leaving this world anytime soon because his call to disciple others is not yet finished.


And so, as he ends verse 26, Paul confidently asserts that he will be with the Philippians again. Here in this verse, Paul shares his purpose statement for the future, “so that through my being with you again, your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” Initially, it might seem as though Paul is preparing to take all the credit for the future maturity of the Philippians. But this is a challenging sentence to translate into English from the original Greek. A more wooden, unmassaged translation of the original language would read: “your boasting in Christ Jesus in me.” The proud confidence, the reinforced assurance of the Philippians, will abound not because of what Paul does but rather because of what Christ is doing in and through Paul.


THIS is the true work of discipleship – of leading and encouraging others to grow in their relationship with Jesus. To practice what one preaches. To embody what one teaches. To forgive as one has been forgiven by Christ. To love as one is loved by God. To serve as we have all been served by Christ. To lead by first following Jesus in the tangible and practical outworking of one’s own life.


As long as we are here on earth, we always should be growing in our faith in Christ. None of us has ever arrived. We are all looking to Jesus. But our maturing in Christ-likeness is directly correlated to our willingness to serve the needs of others before our own desires. In this tension, we must not overlook the appearance yet again of one of the most repeated words and themes in this letter: joy (v. 25). Specifically, notice how joy is pointed to as the result of living by grace. We find and experience joy through our obedient submission to boasting in Christ – by yielding to the work of the Spirit in growing us more and more into the character of Jesus. And as with Paul, this same joy fuels both our sense of call and confidence, even as we ourselves are works in progress, to disciple others. Beloved, we become more like Jesus, the more we lead and to encourage others to grow in their relationship with Jesus.


Consider & Discuss | Is there anywhere in your life right now where you are wrestling between what you want and what is more necessary – what the Lord has called you to do for the good of others in the advancement of the Gospel?


Prayer Focus | Lord, in the ever-constant struggle between our desires and the needs of this world, we ask for You – Your will and Your purposes – to win out every time. Teach us to recognize the only progress that matters in this life is the progress we make in becoming more like Your Son, Jesus Christ. Foster that kind of transformation in us by continually giving us Your grace – grace to grow and grace to share with each other. Amen.