Philippians 1:21-26 (NASB)
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.
23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;
24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
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 your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.
You know—verse 21 is constantly quoted, but I seldom hear the verses immediately following it mentioned at all. I can’t imagine why. Paul’s words here are fascinating and challenging, though I suspect most of us would find them proud or arrogant if they were spoken today. What a pity.
He says something like this…
If I continue to live in this body, it will result in people entering into a relationship with Christ and growing in the faith. I know that it is necessary for your spiritual growth that I remain for now. Because of that, I’m sure I will stick around for a while. God will use me to bless you the next time we meet just as you have come to expect.
Could I say that to anyone? Well, maybe I shouldn’t say it out loud or in those words, but I think it is really a healthy attitude to have. It is not arrogance. It is a humble confidence in God’s ability and desire to work through those who are willing to serve Him without reservation.
We can’t all say this now, but we could…
The catch is that we really have to make it our number one, genuine desire to love, serve, and glorify God with every part of our lives. No conditions. No qualifiers. No excuses.
It’s hard—but it’s simple. It requires a one time conviction and commitment to abandon all for God. Then it requires a day by day and decision by decision determination to follow through—and a reliance on His help to do it.
We will surely screw it up now and again. But that’s no show stopper if we are quick to repent. God can use even our failures to teach us lessons and give us fresh zeal to pursue him.
The bottom line is, if we make it our goal to glorify God with our lives—He will see to it that that is exactly what happens. The world will be significantly better off because we are here. People will meet Jesus because we proclaim the gospel in love. Believers will grow and be blessed by our teaching and our example. And that will be true as long as God sees fit to leave us around.
That’s not arrogance. That’s just trusting God, understanding His plans for us, and believing in His ability to use our efforts.