“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.”
As we saw in Philippians 1:21–24, Paul spent a little time considering whether, given the choice, he would rather go on living and ministering or whether he would be better off dying so that he could meet the Lord face to face. We can certainly surmise from that passage that he would have preferred the latter. Yet the apostle knew that whether he lived or died, he did so in Christ, who would be the ultimate decider of his fate (v. 21). And although Jesus had not granted him a perfect view of what awaited him in the future, from everything that Paul could see it did seem that he would be released soon after finishing his epistle to the Philippians (vv. 18–20). Believing that it was all but certain that he would soon be free, the apostle logically surmised that remaining alive and continuing his ministry to the Philippians and the world was more necessary in God’s providence than his immediate death. That is what he tells us in today’s passage (vv. 25–26).
Upon getting out of prison in Rome, the apostle expected that he would come to Philippi again and visit the church he had established there, having planted it in the midst of a great deal of supernatural activity (v. 26; see Acts 16:6–40). Seeing his beloved congregation in person once more would bless Paul and be a benefit to the Philippians for their “progress and joy in the faith” (Phil. 1:25). Paul was an apostle, so it is easy to understand why he was confident that his ministry would be such a blessing to others. Since we are not apostles, at times it is harder for us to have this view of our own service to the people of God. Yet there is a real sense in which we should expect our Lord to use us to help others progress in the faith and find great joy. Why would our Creator, after all, bless us with spiritual gifts that the church needs if not to make us a part of His plan to bring about a people who are perfectly united in faith and in love (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:11–16)? In saving us, God has ordained that His people need what we each have to contribute to the well-being of His body, and we are sinning if we do not put our gifts to work in the church.
Paul’s return to the Philippians would also give them cause to “glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:26). We likewise have abundant reasons to boast in the same Savior who meets the needs of His church as we use our gifts to benefit His body.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
In saving us from sin, death, and His holy wrath, our God has placed us in a community that, according to His sovereign determination, needs our gifts and talents. To refuse to serve the body of Christ is tantamount to refusing to serve Christ Himself, and we always want to be good and faithful servants if we really trust in Him. How can you put your time and talents to work in your local church?