John 3:16 | Philippians 1:20-24 | Romans 14:7-8 | Colossians 3:2-4
Now this is living!
The Apostle Paul was the Church’s first missionary. He traveled much of the known world of his day, telling people the good news: that God loved them so much He gave them Jesus.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”John 3:16 NLT
He was living for Christ. If you asked him what he was going to do on any given morning, he might have said, “Same thing as yesterday…serve Jesus”.
But it could not have been easy. As you might have guessed from his multiple imprisonments, not everyone was open to what he was preaching. Going to Heaven would have meant an end to the resistance and rejection he faced daily.
That’s why, in this episode’s scripture passage, Paul was on the fence about whether he preferred to make it out of prison alive or not. Isn’t that wild?! You would think he’d be like, “Will I make out of here alive? I sure as hats hope so!” Instead it was, “If I make it, cool. If I die–bonus! But I should probably keep living.”
For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.Philippians 1:20-24 NLT
Ultimately he decides living is the way to go, but only after some internal debate. And, not even for selfish reasons (“I have so many things I still want to do!”); he wants to live for the people he serves in his ministry.
Of course you want to live; it is natural and good to do so. And it would be awful to want otherwise for yourself. But Paul points out in a separate letter that, if you claim Christ’s redemption, you don’t live for yourself anymore…
For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.Romans 14:7-8 NLT
You live or die to honor the Lord. And if you have the assurance of belonging to the Lord, you have a lot to look forward to either way.
Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.Colossians 3:2-4 NLT
What a great thought: Christ being revealed to the whole world. And us, sharing in his glory. We can hold that thought and have amazing joy right now, knowing how much God loves us.
See the sun now bursting through the clouds
Black and white turn to colour all around
All is new in the Saviour I am found
This is living nowLyric from “This is Living” by Hillsong Young & Free
Questions for Group Discussion
- How would you categorize Paul’s attitude toward his own survival? Would you say he was brave, totally committed, resigned, or what?
- Could Paul have had this attitude without a great deal of hope?
- How can you live for Christ? Pray that God would show you how to answer this question every day.
Challenge: What Are You Living For?
This challenge may not require a lot of time. But if you decide to do it, you will need a boat-load of honesty.
- Ask yourself this question: “What am I living for?” This is a tough question, so use the prompts below to start answering it.
- What is your passion?
- What gets you excited?
- What do you think about most during the day?
- What do you care about most?
- What is God’s role in your life?
- Don’t be upset if you come to the conclusion that you are living for your family…or sports…or stuffed crust pizza. But be honest with yourself.
- If you are not happy with your answer… Lighten up! And ask God to change your focus.