Philippians 1:12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
My church is going through the book of Philippians on Sunday mornings. As I have been attempting to study this book during the week, a particular portion of Scripture has haunted my thoughts. The Scripture above. Paul was at the end of his life. He has been beaten, shipwrecked, mocked, humiliated, and often lived in want. His life went from one of comfort to extreme discomfort. Now his suffering is worse, he is in prison. He is awaiting an audience with Nero. His last appeal. If anyone had the “right” to question God it was Paul. But, nowhere in this letter does he even hint that his trials are a burden. (Though I’m sure he had his moments.) What is his great joy? That in this new suffering, the gospel is going forth, his brothers and sisters have been emboldened, and God is getting the glory.
I have a rough allergy day and I want the world to be nice to me. Paul doesn’t give a second thought to how he feels. His life’s goal, the very air he breathes, is God’s glory. If God’s glory was my sole aim in life, how would it change my thoughts, motives, attitudes, and actions? I’d complain (Phil. 2:14-15) & question God’s mysterious working less. I would be more joyful. I would serve more. I would see trial and suffering for what it is, an opportunity to draw closer to my Savior and bring Him glory. Practically it looks like:
- Sickness. Living life with allergies isn’t my preference. My family likes to tease me and tell me I’m allergic to everything. Mold. Mildew. Dust. Bleach. Latex. Pollen. Yellow Flies. Cats. And over the past couple of years we can add Nuts, Wheat, Gluten, and Artificial Coloring to the mix. Bleah. But, if God’s glory is my mantra, then sickness has a purpose. How can I bring God glory in this season (while I still pray for healing)? How can I point others to His faithfulness and care? How can I turn this trial on it’s head and magnify the glories of my Creator through it?
- Vehicle. I always told my parents that I would own any car that God choose to give me, any car but a station wagon. I detest station wagons. I’m convinced they are the ugliest car on the planet! What do I own…yep…a station wagon. :) Over the past couple years it has decided to break down…a lot (like any other vehicle from 1999). I want something newer. But, God wants me to learn patience and contentment. I’m tempted to complain about all the things I don’t like and all the things that don’t work. But, if God’s glory is my mantra, than a “grandma car” (as my sister calls it) is an opportunity to glorify God. How can I use it to serve? How can I look for the good things (like a kickin’ sound system!!!) about my car? How about gratitude that I own a car and it runs!
- Singleness. Yup, especially singleness. Singleness is a season unlike any other. And it’s uniqueness is an incredible opportunity to glorify God. How? Using this undistracted time to draw closer to God. Serving as much as humanly possible (there’s no family and obligations to limit your time). Joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment in God alone. A unique opportunity to learn contentment now, before you’re married. (My mom often tells me that discontentment is not silenced when you’re married. You will always find something to be discontent about.) Being an example. As you joyfully walk the path God has laid out for you, it encourages those around you. Singleness is a great opportunity to be an example to those younger than you. To serve them and model Christ’s love. Singleness may not be my preference, but there are endless ways to glorify God. And if God gets more glory in me being single than me being married, so be it! I want to be like Paul, it doesn’t matter the circumstances or means, as long as God gets the glory!
I could come up with many other examples. No matter the circumstance. No matter if it’s comfortable and my preference. Is my goal, my delight, God’s glory. Do I look at everything through the lense of God being glorified?