Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
27Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, 30since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
What Runs Beneath Our Surface
I’m not sure many people can honestly relate to the Apostle Paul. When you read from him or about him, his behavior is so extreme and different, it’s hard to understand where he’s coming from, or what motivates him to live so counter-culturally. His behavior is unfathomable, and difficult to try to imitate. But this passage gives us a huge clue in this regard:
“For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Paul’s lifestyle is so different because his mentality was so different, a mentality that valued Christ above all things. First, the presence of Christ, and second, the work of Christ. Because these are priorities #1 and #2 for Paul, he lived a life unlike any other. It is simply not possible to imitate the life of Paul, without imitating the vision and values of Paul – putting Christ first above all things.
If you are disappointed with what your life looks like, your actions, your behaviors…take a moment to look at your mentalities, the things that run under the surface. Where are your priorities? What do you value? What is most important to you? Unless you can identify these things, and begin to shift them, behaviors will always stubbornly remain the same…
1. How honestly can you share Paul’s sentiment, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”?
2. What behavior would you most like to change in your life? What is the root mentality behind that behavior?
3. What are practical ways in which we can shift our mentalities to be closer to where we want them to be?