Paul understood that to live for Christ is the best possible life. Philippians Chapter 1:20-21 states:
I 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. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
I. When you live for something, you live to enjoy it. Some people live for the weekends, music, movies, sports, etc. The secret of Paul’s joy, even while he was in prison, was that he lived for Christ.
We enjoy Christ because . . .
- He is worthy. He is God almighty taking on human form. He is the savior, the light of the world, and the hope of all nations. See Colossians 1:15 – 17 and Revelation 5:9-12.
- He accepts us. We feel welcome, desired, loved, and important by people who accept us, especially family and friends. Jesus is like this. John 6:37 states “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” See also Matthew 11:28.
- He protects us. There are people who make us feel secure, both emotionally and physically. Jesus is like this. See Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 3:5-6, Romans 8:28.
- He makes us better. The people we are around influence who we are. Some people make us better and we are kinder, more thoughtful, more peaceful, bringing sunny days. Jesus causes us to be better. See Philippians 1:6, Philippians 2:13. 2 Corinthians 3:18b.
II. When you live for something, you live to advance it.
- You advance it by making it look good. In Philippians 1:20, Paul wants to exalt Jesus. Jesus does not need to be made better; rather, people need to see Him more clearly. Describing Jesus is important, which Paul does in his letters. When people give a testimony about what God has done, their story exalts Jesus. When you go to extremes for someone, as Paul did for Jesus, it makes them look special. See 2 Corinthians 11:23-29.
- You advance it by accomplishing its purposes.
- Paul wanted people to accept the gospel. Luke 19:10 states Jesus’s purpose:
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
See also 1 Peter 3:18 and John 3:16.
- Paul also wanted people to live the gospel. See Ephesians 4:22, 1 Peter 1:18, and Philippians 1:27.
III. When you live for Christ, it changes your life. God takes the lead of our lives and turns it into gold.
- When we live for Christ, seeming setbacks become significant advances. Paul was always chained when he was in prison. This would normally seem like a setback, but it was transformed into gold. He saw the chains as a benefit because he had the chance to talk to people about Jesus. Jesus was so wonderful to Paul that he was willing to put up with it. God will take negative circumstances and will transform them into good. If Paul were still living for himself, he wouldn’t feel this way.
Philippians 1:12-14 states
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
- When we live for Christ, false motives produce good results. In Philippians 12:14, the motives are pure, but there will always be selfish reasons and false motives behind what people do. We must remember that God is bigger than false motives and inaccuracies. God can take them and do good with them. What matters most is that we live for Christ and trust that God will work for good.
Philippians 1:14-18 states:
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
- When we live for Christ, future fears turn into fantastic victories. Philippians 1:19 states
for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I 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. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
IV. When you live for Christ, you reject His rivals, including:
- Pleasure. When you live for fun, after a while it gets boring and you need a new thrill. Jesus never gets old or boring. Pleasure is limited. Jesus is not. We can enjoy him anywhere. Pleasure is temporary and Jesus is eternal.
- Power. As much as we try, there is so much that we cannot control. Power is an illusion and it runs out. It fails. Christ does not fail.
- Pride. Pride is an illusion. Anyone who looks objectively at a prideful person can see that their life is not as great as it seems. Pride isolates and creates withdrawal.
Paul had joy. He had Jesus. If you want a better life, you need to know what you are living for.
Are you living just for yourself? Are you living for Christ to get what you want? Or are you living for Christ for his sake?