For I know that this will turn out to my salvation, through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will in no way be disappointed, but with all boldness, as always, now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.Â Â Â Â Philippians 1:19-21 (WEB)
Paul was a man who did not worry about his reputation. He didnâ€™t need to defend himself. He refused to fall into self-pity. He refused to receive criticism and personal attacks and instead put his life out there as a reflection of Jesus.
To live for money â€“ is to die leaving it all behind.
To live for power and influence â€“ is to die losing it all.
To live for â€˜stuffâ€™ â€“ is to die without anything in my hands.
Despite his circumstances, Paul knew things would turn out as God directed. He was not experiencing the end, but just another season that would lead to forever. Whatever temporarily brought pain would result in Jesus being glorified. To truly live â€“ is to live a Christ-centered, Christ-controlled life that has joy without end.
Remember the prayer of Jabez that was so popularly quoted a few years ago?
Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, â€œOh that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that it not be to my sorrow!â€Â Â Â Â Â 1 Chronicles 4:10 (WEB)
God broadens my tent so that I see my circumstances in the bigger picture. Problems seem huge in my mind and try to overwhelm me. The truth is they are smaller than the deceiver wants me to believe. Jesus keeps my focus on His opinion. What others think seems of little importance compared to Jesusâ€™ opinion. As my tent broadens and God opens opportunities for me to bring Jesus to others, the enemy is also alerted that his agenda is threatened. And so his accusations increase (Revelation 12:10) and my life may feel the attack. What should I do?
Jesus calms me about my future. He shows me what is really important (my relationship with Him). It is in keeping the basics: prayer, study, and worship that our relationship remains tight. I look the deceiver in the eye and know the assurance of Jesus standing over me. And with that assurance, fear goes and peace fills that space. The peace that passes my ability to understand. And in the peace I see the Hope that is Jesus Christ.