I’m dying – let’s party…
Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
What is my portion? What am I here for? What does God have for me?
A drink offering was one of the most transparently wasteful ways in which offerings were made – it was perfectly good drink that was just poured out on the ground, in honour of God.
It’s the picture that Paul uses to confront what is possibly the worst case scenario – that there is nothing useful left for him to do. That the sum total of rest of his life will be to become like a drink offering, a garnish added to the service and work of the Christians in Philippi.
On what basis could they then rejoice?
- Consistent faithfulness. Paul has been faithful to the end. He has not and will not stop preaching Christ or rejoicing that Christ is being preached. He’s not given up or given in. They can rejoice that he has finished well.
- Strategic faithfulness. Paul has equipped the next generation to continue the work he started. This is the opposite of personality driven ministry – he describes their work as the main thing “the sacrificial offering of their faith” with his contribution as a just a “drink offering”. He has worked hard to ensure that the work of the church will not stop at his death.
- Devoted faithfulness. Even facing death, Paul is determined that whatever happens to him it will be to the honour and glory of God. He is happy to be poured out as a drink offering, provided it’s for God. He doesn’t require God give him fame or prominence – he is quite content to just be poured out.
We must consistently pursue faithfulness. We need to leave behind roller-coaster Christianity where we go from spiritual high on Sunday to a spiritual low on Monday – and instead focus on doing everything in a way that glorifies Christ.
We must remember our calling to equip and train the next generation – which is primarily by being good pastors to our own families, but also in youth work and by putting serious investment into the younger men and women who will, one day, lead the church. Showing in our own character the character of God. Teaching and training by both instruction and example our kids to continue to love and serve Jesus long after we’re gone.
We must determine to be satisfied with glorifying God. Paul’s identity was not found in the fact that he was their founding pastor, or that he was an apostle or an evangelist. It was found in Christ: he had been adopted into God’s family. He was so thankful for God’s grace and so satisfied with Christ that he didn’t need any of the other stuff to be happy. And so he could face a future in which he might do nothing “useful” because he wasn’t looking for self-worth in anything other than the gospel.
When guys have lived like that, we can rejoice with them as they face the end of their lives. They are not full of regrets: they are full of thankful hope. The God who they have served faithfully will not fail them now. They can thank him for his sustaining grace, thank him for his provision: that the gospel will continue to be preached and people will continue to be saved. And they can thank him that he is so precious and so highly to be treasured that he is worthy to be honoured with every breath, including their last.
The temporary sorrow of parting will soon be eclipsed by the joy as we see the fruit of a life lived all-out for God. The sorrow of separation will be eclipsed by the joy of the resurrection.
Are you constantly pursuing faithfulness? It cannot be rushed – it is only seen in long obedience, over many years and in every area of your life. Forming the habit of faithfulness will start with small daily decisions to choose faithfulness over convenience or ease or bad habit.
Where is God prompting you to be more faithful?
What is holding you back?