Saturday, January 01, 2011

Words from Paul ...

Philippians 1:23 - I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.

This verse has popped up several times over that past few weeks.  I haven't been looking for it - it has appeared in the text of books I am reading, podcasts I listen to, posts I have read.  

Here is more context: 
22 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! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 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, 26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

From a lesson written by John MacArthur:
"The phrase "I do not know" contains a Greek word Paul often used (gnorizo). Of the twenty-six times it occurs in the New Testament, eighteen of those occurrences are in Paul's writings. It means "to reveal" or "make known." Paul couldn't say what he would choose. ...  When faced with the most basic of life's issues--whether it would be better to live or die--his response was, "I would be thrilled to glorify Christ in heaven or on earth. Given the choice, I can't choose." Because glorifying Christ was Paul's motivation, where he glorified Christ was not the issue. ... Because Paul couldn't choose he wrote, "I am hard-pressed from both directions" (v. 23). "Hard-pressed" (Gk.,sunecho) speaks of being hemmed in on both sides. It pictures a traveler on a narrow path, a wall of rock on either side. He is unable to turn aside and able only to go straight ahead ... The Greek word translated "desire" (epithumia) is most often used of a sinful lust. But occasionally it expresses a strong unfulfilled desire for something right and good. Paul had a compelling but unfulfilled desire to "depart" (Gk., analusi), the same word used in 2 Timothy 4:6: "I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand" (emphasis added). He expressed the same idea in 2 Corinthians 5:8: "We are of good courage, I say, and prefer ... to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." Unlike the desire of Greek philosophers for immortality of the soul in a vague sense, Paul's great desire was to be in personal, intimate, complete, unhindered, conscious fellowship with Christ. ... Consider what your heart and mind are set on. If they're set on the right things, you'll be content with the circumstances in which God has placed you."

Paul felt a necessity to remain - to help the church of Philippi, to help other believers, to walk alongside them in their relationship with Christ. He knew that the work he was doing was glorifying Christ.  

I don't understand. I want to go to heaven. What I am doing here is not glorifying God. I am not making a positive difference to anyone.  Paul wanted to go to heaven, but decided to do what God wanted.  

How do you have a heaven focus without being mired in the frustration of this earth? Another quote is "Aim for heaven and get earth thrown in. Aim for earth and get neither." (CS Lewis)  How???? Is it even possible??? 



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post and the one on failure below are related. You feel like a failure and so you want to give up and go to heaven. But that’s not what Paul was talking about. (and you know that) Paul totally knew his purpose and just really wanted to be with Jesus.

But you’re talking about something else entirely. Satan wants us to believe we’re failures so that we will give up on what God wants us to do. If he can get us to believe we are worthless to God, then he wins. The kingdom work doesn’t get done. But we know that every bit of kingdom work, however small, is important to God.

I feel like a failure in all the ways you described as well. Every. single. one. But the problem here is with the words you are using. Failure and Success are all or nothing words. No one is ever a complete failure or a complete success. It just doesn’t happen. That is depression talking. Life is more complicated.

Satan wants you to believe that each little failure is the whole failure and that no small success matters at all. This is a lie. In fact, God has shown us that the opposite is completely true. God has forgiven all the little failures. And every small success is the whole success in His eyes. Need I remind you of 1 Cor 1: 27-29?
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

You don’t have to aim for heaven. You just have to aim for the next good thing.


Jan 4, 2011, 1:22:00 AM  

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