The gospel story relates to all of life. The gospel could be lived out in all of life. The gospel saved us, is saving us, and will save us. The gospel is not just for new followers of Jesus. We need the gospel daily. The gospel is studied and lived out for a life time. Let’s see how the gospel related to Paul while in prison.
Paul is in jail and he said that he will rejoice. He does not know if he will walk out as a free man or if he will be killed (Philippians 1:19-21). But look at what he says in Philippians 1:19: “this will turn out for my deliverance”. How can Paul say that this will turn out for his deliverance when he might be killed? Verse 21 answers that question: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. He says that if he dies he will be with Jesus, and that is the greatest. But, if he is lives he can still serve Jesus, which is also great. How can Paul say such a thing? It is because he is radically Christ-centered.
He says that it is his expectation and hope that Jesus will be honored in his body, whether by life or by death (vs.20). Paul’s main ambition in life was to honor Christ. His main ambition was not Jesus plus work, money, or anything else. He used work, and everything else to honor Christ. His main aim was not money or fame, but to honor Jesus.
This is how Paul could say that in life or in death he will be delivered. When our main aim is to honor Christ, we will be delivered from afflictions either in this life or the next. That is not to say that we start loving the gifts more than the giver. The central thing for Paul was not life or death; it was maintaining a faithful witness to Christ. His life was not a matter of seeking his own comfort or advancement. It was about seeking the advancement of Christ’s kingdom.1
And yet, when we seek to honor Christ in all of life we are delivered either in this life or the next. If anxiety; “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28), if loneliness; we know that God is there and knows what we are going through; if struggling to find our identity; we are made beautifully in the image of God; and the list can go on. Afflictions will come especially if we are Christians. Sometimes the afflictions will not go away in this life. But we can say with Paul, that the present sufferings are not worth to compare to the glories that will be revealed to us in heaven. The eternal surpassing joy of worshiping Christ will soon come. So the main question we must ask ourselves is: Is my main ambition in life to honor Christ and why should it be?