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4. How to Really Live for Christ

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For 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. 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. If 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! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. (Philippians 1:19-26)

What does it mean to really live for Christ? How do we know if we are truly living for him?

In the book of Philippians, Paul was imprisoned in Rome, awaiting a potential death sentence for his gospel ministry. In this specific text, he says one of the most quoted passages in the Bible. He says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (v.21). This verse is the major theme of this passage. What does it mean to say, “To live is Christ.”

I remember when I was a basketball player in high school and college, I owned a t-shirt that said, “Life is basketball and the rest is details.” The idea behind the phrase on the shirt was that basketball was the primary focus of life and everything else really didn’t matter. At that point in my life, I could relate to that shirt and that is why I bought it. For me basketball was one of the greatest priorities in my life. Sadly, that also was a reflection of my relationship with God. For a large portion of my Christian life, God was really just a part of my life; he was not everything. I think that is the idea behind Paul’s phrase, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul was saying that Christ was everything to him.

For many Christians, they know this verse by heart, but they don’t know it by practice. Like myself as a young Christian, Christ is not their life. Life is school. Life is family. Life is career, or life is some hobby or entertainment. One author said, “Life is what we are alive to.”1 It is what really gets us excited. For many, their passions lie outside of their relationship with Christ.

What does it mean to really live for Christ? Jesus said this was the very reason that he came to the earth. He came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). He came so we could truly be alive to God—that he would be our passion and joy. Paul had found this life, and he constantly proclaimed it. In Galatians 2:20 he said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Paul saw himself as no longer alive—he left his past life behind, and now Christ was his life and Christ alone. His life began when he was blinded on his way to Damascus, and he became a follower of Christ. Later in Philippians 3, he recounts all the former things he took pride in—his Jewish upbringing, following the law, and being a Pharisee, and yet, he says he counted it all dung—all nothing for the sake of gaining Christ (v. 7-8). Christ was the beginning of his life and getting to know him more was the continuation of his life. And, one day dying would be gain because that would mean dwelling in the unhindered presence of Christ.

Is Christ your life? Is he your daily passion? Is he your hope for the future? In Philippians, we get the opportunity to watch and study a mature Christian—Paul. He is somebody we should be modeling. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” We can be sure that what we see here in Paul is not just descriptive of his emotions and experiences while in prison, but it is also prescriptive. It is a challenge to us to grow into spiritual maturity. Paul says this later in Philippians: “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you” (Philippians 3:17). He taught them to follow his example, and that example was a life truly lived for Christ and Christ alone.

What is your life? What is it that you’re really living for? Is it success, wealth, comfort, or family? If so, you will not be able to say to die is gain—to die would really be the loss of all you are truly living for. In this text we will see five principles about how to really live for Christ.

Big Question: What does Philippians 1:19-26 show us about how Paul lived for Christ? How can we apply these principles to our lives so we can also really live for Christ?

To Really Live for Christ, We Must Trust and Submit to God’s Plan

for 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 (Philippians 1:19)

In this passage Paul says that, because of the prayers of the saints and the help given by the Spirit of Christ, what had happened to him would turn out for his deliverance. What does he mean by what has happened? Paul is here referring to his imprisonment for preaching the gospel and the criticism by the Christian detractors. Despite all that, he believed everything would work out for his deliverance.

What does Paul mean by deliverance?

Interpretation Question: What does Paul mean by his confidence in eventually being delivered?

  1. 1. Paul’s deliverance could mean that he was confident that he would be released from prison.

Some commentators have taken this view point. He does say in verse 25 that he was “convinced that he would remain” with the Philippians. He was convinced that it was not God’s will for him to die but to be set free and to continue his ministry to others. Paul could be referring to this. However, the fact that Paul demonstrates some uncertainty in verse 21 of his final outcome makes many believe he can’t be referring to deliverance from prison. Paul says in verse 21 that his hope is that Christ will be glorified in his body by life or by death. Therefore, deliverance probably does not refer to being released from prison.

  1. . Paul’s deliverance probably means that God would work everything out for his sanctification.

The word deliverance can also be translated “salvation” (KJV). There is a salvation in the past tense when we accepted Christ and began to follow him, but there is also a progressive sense of salvation. Philippians 2:12-13 says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God works in us to will and do of his good pleasure.”

This aspect of salvation is our being made into the image of Christ. God did not just save us to enter heaven but also to be made into the image of his Son. And, God uses everything—good things and bad things—to make us into his image. This is the promise in Romans 8:28-29:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

What is the good thing that God promises for every believer? It is to be made in the image of Christ. That was the deliverance Paul was confident in. He was confident that he would look like Christ, and specifically that Christ would be glorified in him whether by life or death (v. 20).

See, it wasn’t that Paul knew whether he would live or die. He didn’t seem to know for sure that he would be released, though he was convinced of it. However he did know that it was God’s will to glorify Christ in his life through the process. He trusted God’s will.

What does this tell us about Paul and what it means to live for Christ?

For Paul, it meant to trust God’s plan and his purpose. He may not have fully understood why God allowed him to be placed in prison. He may not have understood why the very people he was trying to build up were criticizing him, but he did know it would all work towards his deliverance—his sanctification. Paul trusted in God’s sovereign plan. In fact, he was consumed with God’s sovereign plan.

We see this with many men of God in Scripture especially when confronted with suffering. Jesus Christ prayed, “Take this cup of suffering from me, but nevertheless your will be done” (Luke 22:42, paraphrase). He said, “If there is any other way to save the world other than being separated from you, then do it, but your will be done. I entrust my life to you---trusting your will is best.” He also declared that his life was to do the will of the Father (John 6:38). Christ was consumed with the will of God.

I love the story of David after being kicked out of his own kingdom by his son Absalom. David and his mighty men were walking away from the kingdom as exiles, and a man named Shimei began to curse David and throw stones at him (2 Samuel 16). David’s mighty men became angry and asked, “Why are you allowing him to curse you, let us take off his head.” But David replied, “No, let him curse for God has commanded him to curse. Maybe God will hear his cursing and repay me with good for the cursing I have received today” (2 Samuel 16:11-12). David trusted in God’s plan for his life and that God was working everything for his good.

It is the very promise we have as believers in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We know God is working all things—good and bad—for our good. This was Paul’s confidence. Everything was working out for his deliverance. “To live is Christ” means to trust God’s will for our lives.

See, many only trust God’s will when it is his will to bless us, but what about when he is making us like his Son through suffering? What if he is making us like his Son through persevering through trials (2 Thessalonians 3:5)?

Are you trusting God’s plan for your life? Lord, if your plan means sickness or disability like it was with Jacob; Lord, if your plan means loss of my wealth and health as Job; Lord, if your plan means being persecuted or martyred as many of the prophets before me, Lord, your will be done. Lord, just allow me to be faithful in doing your plan.

Many Christians are like Abraham when he first came to faith. “Go to the land I’ve called you to dwell in, and I will make you into a great nation.” Abraham gets to the land in Genesis 12, but there is a famine in the land, so he immediately packs up and moves to Egypt. It was incomprehensible to him that it was God’s plan for him to suffer. “God, you called me to this? How can this be your will?”

However, later in Abraham’s spiritual life, he matured. His life wasn’t about his comfort or his will anymore—it was about God’s plan. When God commanded him to offer his son as a sacrifice, he didn’t ask questions. He had learned how to trust God with his life and also that of his family. To live was to follow God. If it was God’s plan to take the son of promise away, he trusted that God would work even that out for his deliverance.

Are you living for and trusting God’s plan? Or are you only trusting and submitting to his plan when it matches up with yours? “To live is Christ” means to trust and obey God’s plan. Lord, whatever your will is.

Application Question: In what ways has God been challenging or teaching you to trust his plan for your life and not your own plans? How can we learn to faithfully trust and obey God’s plan for our life even when it leads to trials and suffering?

To Really Live for Christ, We Must Depend on the Body of Christ

for 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 (Philippians 1:19)

Paul’s confidence in this deliverance came from the prayers of the Philippians and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Paul realized that in order for him to be faithful to God, he needed the prayers of the saints. He could not be bold in his witness, he could not die faithfully, nor could he be released without the prayers of the saints and the help of the Holy Spirit.

That is part of what it means to live for Christ—it means to not only be dependent upon God but also dependent upon his body. This is where much of Christ’s help and resources come from. There are many Christians who live detached from Christ because they are not depending on his body. They lack the wisdom that comes from Christ. They lack the strength that comes from Christ, and they lack his comfort because they are independent, instead of dependent upon Christ’s body.

In fact, when Paul says the prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, it can also be translated “‘your prayers and the consequent supply …”2 Paul realized that the supply of the Holy Spirit—the boldness, the strength, and the patience come in part as a response to the prayers of the saints. It is impossible to live for Christ and not be dependent upon his people—the body of Christ.

It must be noted that many in the church claim to live for Christ without being dependent upon his body. This was the very problem that Paul confronted in 1 Corinthians 12:21-22. Look at what he said: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don't need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don't need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.”

We cannot say that we don’t need one another because we do, and this need is often augmented in difficult times. When a person is blind, the rest of the senses in the body become stronger; the hearing and the touch become more acute in order to navigate the various aspects of life. This was true of Paul in prison. The Philippians not only sent Epaphras to care for and support him financially, but most importantly, they supported him through constant prayer.

In fact, we see Paul petitioning many churches for prayer while he was prison. He wrote to the Ephesians asking for prayer that he may preach the Word of God fearlessly (Ephesians 6:19). He wrote to the Colossians asking for prayer for both open doors and for clarity in speaking the Word of God (Colossians 4:2). In addition, the majority of Paul’s letters ask for prayer. In this we learn the secret to much of Paul’s great strength and usefulness for the kingdom. His great strength and usefulness came from his great weaknesses. He saw his inability and God’s ability, and he knew God’s ability often came through the saints.

We even saw this in Christ while he was on the earth. If there was anybody who could be independent, it was the Son of God. However, in his worst hour right before going to the cross, he called his disciples and said, “I am weary unto death. Keep watch with me this one hour” (Mark 14:34). When Christ was weak, he called a prayer meeting with the other disciples. He was dependent upon those God had given him. He came to the earth to demonstrate what man should really look like. He was dependent on the people of God and the supply of the Holy Spirit that came through them as they prayed.

Are you truly “alive” when you are with Christ’s body? “To live is Christ” means being dependent and confident in his body. If we are not dependent, then we are missing much of the “abundant life” that is in Christ.

Application Question: In what ways has God taught you to rely on the body of Christ? In what ways have you experienced the supply of the Spirit through the body of Christ? How is God calling you to be a channel of his supply to others?

To Really Live for Christ, We Must Exalt Christ in Everything We Do

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 (Philippians 1:20)

Interpretation Question: What does Paul mean by Christ being exalted in his body, whether by life or by death?

Here we see another aspect of what “to live is Christ” means. It means to exalt Christ in everything we do. The phrase “eagerly expect” is really one word in Greek, and it has the idea of “watching something with the head turned away from other objects”.3 Paul’s attention was wholly occupied with one thing to the exclusion of others. While in prison, unsure of what his sentence might be, he had one expectation more than anything else. What was it? He expected that Christ would be exalted in his body. His one focus was glorifying Christ. That’s what living for Christ meant to Paul. It meant to glorify him in everything. In fact he taught this in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Even in the mundane things of life—our eating and drinking—they should all be done in such a way that Christ is glorified. That should be our aim and that was Paul’s earnest expectation as he went through this trial.

This phrase can literally be translated that “Christ will be enlarged in my body.”4 Other versions translate the word “magnify.” Now certainly, Christ can get no bigger than he already is. Paul’s hope was that his body would be like a telescope to all those around him. When we look at the stars, we realize that they are truly humongous objects in the universe. However, when looking at them from earth, they are so small that most of us walk around at night and barely notice them. However, if we looked through a telescope, the same small stars become a lot larger.

This is how most people’s view of Christ is. Christ is the biggest and most important thing in the universe, and yet people, including us, commonly walk around without a thought of him. It is for this reason that living for Christ is so important because the world and many Christians miss out on seeing Christ and truly knowing his magnificence. One of the ways that people see Christ and know how big and great he is by looking at the lives of those who are truly living for him. Their life is not about comfort; it is not about wealth or prestige; it is all about magnifying Christ’s name and helping people come to know him more. That should be our passion and our desire in life—to make him known.

We see this daily in lesser things. Someone goes to a movie they really like and they leave that movie magnifying the movie’s name. They post on Facebook and tell all their friends how good it was. People also do this when they go to a restaurant that they really enjoyed—they tell the world about how great it was. That’s what a Christian looks like who is really alive to Christ. It’s their passion; it’s their purpose.

Charles Ellicott translated Paul words this way: “My body will be the theatre in which Christ’s glory is displayed.”5 This is a challenge for us each day. The reality is that Christ’s worthiness and beauty is judged by our lives. We either demonstrate the glory and beauty of Christ or we demean him. The world judges Christ by his followers.

Paul said this about believers: “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15). We give off the smell of Christ. We magnify him by our lives. He also said to the Corinthians that they were a letter from Christ written for all to read (2 Corinthians 3:3).

Are we magnifying him? Are we demonstrating his goodness and grace?

Let us hear that, when we go through trials, our life speaks the loudest. When a person goes through a trial everybody watches, and it shows what our “life” really is. If comfort is our life or if getting our way is our life, we yell, complain, and get angry at anybody that affects what we want. But when Christ is our life, the aroma of Christ is constantly spread—the words of Scripture are constantly displayed on the tablet of our lives. Our lives say such things as: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they are sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Our lives say, “More blessed is it to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). It says, “Trust in the Lord always and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). It says, “When your enemy is thirsty give him something to drink, when he is hungry give him something to eat. Overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21).

Certainly, we see this with Christ and his life on the earth—his desire was to glorify God. Not only was he consumed with doing God’s will, but he also only said God’s words (John 12:49). The works that he did were the Father’s (John 10:37). He came to give glory to the Father.

What does your life shout when you go through trials? What does it speak to everybody who watches? Does it declare, “My way—my comfort—my dreams!” Or does it speak, “Christ—the gospel—the glory of God!”

Every day we must aim to allow our bodies to be theatres through which Christ is glorified whether through life or death. LORD, let this be true of us! Amen.

Application Question: How can we magnify Christ in the trials of life and in the mundane things of life? How is God calling you to glorify Christ more?

To Really Live for Christ, We Must Properly View Eternity

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain... I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far (Philippians 1:21, 23)

Next we see this battle in Paul’s mind about what he should choose—life or death. To depart and be with Christ was better by far, and therefore, to die was gain.

In this verse we learn a great deal about what it truly means to live for Christ. How a person views the end of something always affects how they live. If a person views themselves as being a doctor in the future, it will affect the type of classes they take and how hard they study. They realize they must be at the top of the class in order to be competitive and to get into med schools. Our view of the end always affects how we live now.

This is also true about how we view death and therefore eternity. Many Christians don’t view death as gain because they don’t realize that what is waiting for them on the other side is so much better than life here. When Christ calls them to store up riches in heaven instead of on this earth (Matt 6:19) that doesn’t motivate them much because they think their job, career, car, house, and X-box are really what life is all about. Your view of the end affects how you live now. In 1 Corinthians 15:32, Paul said, “If the dead are not raised, why not eat, drink for tomorrow we die?” If there is no resurrection and no heaven to look forward to, why not live life for pleasure like everybody else? But if there is a resurrection and eternity, then it should constantly affect how we live. This is why Paul viewed death as gain and also why he chose to daily live for Christ. In fact, we can learn a lot more about his view of eternity by his use of the word “depart” to describe death. The Greek word for “depart” is a very rich word picture which teaches us a great deal about how we should view death and eternity.

Interpretation Question: What can we learn about eternity from Paul’s use of the word “depart” in referring to death?

1. To depart is a camping metaphor.

As Paul was a tent maker, dying to him was a picture of taking up his tent and going home. He saw life as a temporary dwelling until he went to his permanent abode. This is the same picture he used in 2 Corinthians 5:1-2:

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.

Paul groaned to go to his permanent home. If we realized how temporary this life really was, then we wouldn’t spend so much time investing in it; instead, we would focus on the eternal. When I stay at a hotel, I don’t spend a lot of time or money making the hotel room more comfortable. I don’t buy a better microwave or buy a better bed. Why? It’s because I realize it is temporary. This is true of our lives on the earth as well.

Many spend their entire lives focusing on the tent, instead of preparing and investing in their eternal dwelling. Paul describes these people as just escaping the fire at the judgment seat of Christ in 1 Corinthians 3:15. When God tests their works—they will be found to be lacking. They will enter heaven, but none of their works are rewarded because they were all temporary. They spent their life building their tent instead of their eternal home (Matt 6:19-21).

2. To depart is a sailing metaphor.

It means to pick up your anchor and set sail. He saw life as sitting at the dock. A sailor lives for the journey—the adventure. They love being at sea. It is while at sea that they are really alive. If we think this life is exciting, wait until the next. That is when life really begins. Sadly, our view of heaven has been dulled by Hollywood and the movie industry. We think heaven is sitting on a cloud—playing a harp. However, we see Christ describing himself as awarding believers with cities and properties to manage in the coming kingdom for their faithfulness on earth (Luke 19:12-27). We won’t be bored—we’ll be serving our King.

The book of Revelation helps give us a clearer picture of heaven. In Revelation 20 we are seen ruling with Christ on the earth. Revelation 21 shows heaven as a city. From that we can assume all the characteristics of any city. There will be commerce, art, entertainment, business, leisure, and food. In Revelation 22:2, I love how it describes the tree of life bearing twelve kinds of fruit, one for each month. A regular tree bears fruit once a year and one kind of fruit. Heaven is beautiful, rich, and diverse. To depart is to start our adventure.

The person whose life is Christ is not living for this world but living for the next. To die is gain. To depart is to begin the real adventure.

3. To depart is a political metaphor.

It means to set a prisoner free. Here on this earth we are bound to the flesh—our sin nature. I struggle with pride, insecurity, lust, anger, and many other sins. But in heaven, I will be like Christ. I will no longer carry around this old nature in my body; my body will be totally free from sin. One of the greatest things about death is that we will finally be free. We will be fully free to worship, to serve, to love, and to enjoy our God and others.

A person who is living for Christ is yearning with the rest of creation to be set free from the decay on this earth. Romans 8:22-23 says,

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

4. To depart is a farming metaphor.

It means to release a yoke. Paul saw himself serving Christ on this earth, laboring to see the kingdom come and to help Christians grow in maturity. But in heaven, he awaited a release from labor. It is not that we will not serve in heaven because we will, but the burden and the weight of service will no longer be there. Revelation 14:13 says this: “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.’”

In heaven we will rest from our labor and our deeds will follow us. We will be rewarded for our deeds, and the benefits will continue throughout eternity. To live for Christ means to labor here on earth—to sweat, to discipline ourselves, to bear pain and lack of sleep for Christ, but at death it means to release the yoke. Come, Lord! Come! Maranatha!

What is your view of eternity? You can tell by how you live. If you haven’t given much thought to heaven and eternity, it will show in your life. It will show by what truly makes you “alive.” If we don’t view death as gain, we will live this life just like the world, consumed with promotion, retirement, and the temporary things of this life instead of eternity. Paul saw departing as something better.

It should also be noted that if you don’t view death and eternity properly, it will also affect how you view the passing of others. This doesn’t mean that we don’t mourn—we do. However, our mourning should not be like the world, for we mourn in hope (1 Thess 4:13). Like Christ at Lazarus’s funeral, he cried because of his death and because of the pain of others (John 11:35), but he also knew that he was about to resurrect him. We mourn but not like the world. We mourn with hope in the resurrection, especially when our friends or relatives are believers. And when they are not, we trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness.

What does the way you live your life say about your view of the end? “To live is Christ” means to die is gain.

Application Question: What metaphor of departing/death stood out to you most and why? How does Paul’s view of death and eternity challenge how you live your life and how you view the passing away of others?

To Really Live for Christ, We Must Focus on Discipleship

If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me…. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. (Philippians 1:22, 25-26)

Interpretation Question: How did Paul become convinced that it was God’s will for him to remain (v. 25)?

When Paul considered the richness of going to be with Christ and how it was far better than living, he still felt compelled to stay and be with the Philippians and other churches for their spiritual progress.

When Paul says he is convinced of this and knows that he will remain, it doesn’t necessarily mean he received a word from God that he would live. As we’ve watched him wrestle through the benefits of staying and leaving, it’s possible that it was just “biblical reasoning.” Paul was convinced that God would have him stay and be set free from prison because it would be more profitable for the Philippians (and others), and also because Paul, himself, wanted to stay for the same reason.

Observation Question: Why does Paul want to stay for the believers at Philippi?

Specifically, he says he wants to stay for their “progress.” The word progress is a military term that speaks of a “pioneer advance.” “It is a Greek military term referring to the army engineers who go before the troops to open the way into new territory.”6 Paul wanted this church to advance in areas spiritually that they had never been before. He wanted them to grow ultimately so that others would follow along the same path.

This should be our purpose as well as we live for Christ. While Christ was on the earth, he discipled others. To really live for him means to do the same. Consider what Paul said to Timothy: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

In this verse we see four generations of Christians: Paul teaching Timothy, Timothy teaching other men, and other men teaching others. That is what it means to live for Christ. It means to be a disciple that disciples others, so one day they can do the same.

Being a disciple-maker doesn’t necessarily mean you have to meet with somebody every day, read a book with him, and talk through the implications of the book. It simply means living life with others—meeting with them to listen, share, pray, and apply the Word of God together.

Are you willing to be available to others—to live with them, to encourage them, to share life experiences with them, and to help them spiritually progress? That is what “to live is Christ” means. Like Christ, Paul spent his life discipling others and helping them progress in the faith.

Not only does Paul say he would stay for their progress in their faith but their joy in the faith. He wanted them to have joy in the Lord. This church was being persecuted (1:27), it had false teachers (3:2), and it had division (4:2). The Christian life is hard and there are constant threats to the believer’s joy both from outside and inside. But part of growing in God is learning to delight in and rejoice in him more, no matter the circumstance. Paul himself declared in Philippians 4:11 that he had learned how to be content in every circumstance, and he even commanded this church to “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4).

Not only should we take from Paul’s example our need to disciple others but also to be discipled. Someone said we all should have both a Paul and a Timothy in our lives. We need someone who is pouring into us, and we need others to pour into. Who is your Paul? Who is your Timothy?

In order to really live for Christ, we must focus on discipleship. Christ discipled others and so must we, as we follow him.

Application Question: What is your experience in discipling others or being discipled? How can we grow in the area of discipleship? What are some practical principles?


Paul said, “To live is Christ.” What can we learn from his example about really living for Christ?

  1. To Really Live for Christ, We Must Trust and Submit to God’s Plan
  2. To Really Live for Christ, We Must Depend on the Body of Christ
  3. To Really Live for Christ, We Must Exalt Christ in Everything We Do
  4. To Really Live for Christ, We Must Properly View Eternity
  5. To Really Live for Christ, We Must Focus on Discipleship

1 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 70). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

2 Motyer, J. A. (1984). The message of Philippians (p. 85). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

3 Motyer, J. A. (1984). The message of Philippians (pp. 85–86). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

4 Motyer, J. A. (1984). The message of Philippians (p. 86). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

5 Barclay, W. (2003). The Letters to Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., p. 31). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.

6 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 67). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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