As humans, we tend to complicate our lives. We take so much on that we find ourselves running from place to place. We are so busy that we barely have time for ourselves. If you aren't careful, that could also mean that you aren't making time for God either. In Philippians, Paul shows us how to simplify our lives. He shows us that our life is all for one purpose. That purpose is God.
For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
In this passage, Paul is looking for discernment from God. That discernment will tell him if he is to stay alive or be sentenced to death in his imprisonment. If you Google the definition of discernment, it is defined as "the ability to judge well". We all use discernment. We use it in our jobs, in our relationships, but how often are we looking to God for the right decision? How often are we asking God for the discernment to do what He wants us to do? If we are being honest, we probably don't ask for that discernment enough. It is part of our nature as humans to want to do things on our own. But, the reality is we need God. This world can be an ugly place, and we need to hear from God to ensure that our actions are in line with his plan for us.
For everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews chapter 5 also gives us some insight into the idea of discernment from God. Here we see a comparison between someone who is young in their faith vs. a mature Christian. The Christian who is young in their faith is compared to an infant that relies on milk. As an infant in Christ we are just learning how to rely on God. We are learning how to pray, how to understand the Bible. We are just getting our bearings for what the life of someone living for God should look like. As we grow and become strong in our faith, we are able to then rely on solid food. We have built a close relationship to God and look to him to be they key driver in our lives. It is important to note that being strong in our faith isn't always directly related to how long we have been saved. There are people who have been Christians for decades that are still infants in the Lord. Like any other relationship, this takes constant work and effort to succeed and grow.
How do we get this discernment? You have to have a discipline in your life to live for Jesus. Your life has to be all for one thing, the glory of God. Pastor Brian said: When you live fully committed to Jesus, you gain wisdom for your life. The way we get this discernment from God is to ask for it!! And then listen when He gives it.
But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.
In Philippians 1:23 we see that Paul wants to be with Jesus, because he knows it is better than being here on Earth. Instead, Paul gets discernment from God and realizes that in order to reach more people for the Lord, he must stay and minister to those around him. Peter gives up what he wants for the sake of what is needed. He knows that if he stays, that more people will be saved and brought to Christ, and he knows that is what is necessary.
Can you imagine the faith and love that must have taken? Think about your life today. In our culture, we tend to look for, and justify what we want instead of what we need. Often we are driven by greed, self centeredness, achievement, but we are missing the bigger picture. We are missing that we were created to spread the gospel of Jesus. We are being driven by everything except what should be the driving force in our lives, Jesus. We have to be sure that we are disciplining ourselves to live in a way that leads other to Jesus. Don't let your wants destroy your discipline for Jesus.
A silent Christian is a disobedient Christian
-Pastor Brian DiCicco
We should be striving to live for the eternal instead of what is earthly. The world would be changed if we were taking the time to consider what God is looking for in our lives instead of what we want from our lives. One of the most telling ways to see what people are most interested in is to look at where they are investing. Where are they investing their time, money, and resources? What you invest in shows what you value most.
Ask yourself: What are you investing in most? Eternal things or Earthly things?
We get a great example of this in Jesus himself. Jesus was sent to this world to sacrifice himself for all of us. You see Jesus in lots of places, ministering to lots of people, but you see him investing the majority of his time in his disciples. Jesus chose twelve people that he knew would carry him throughout the world when he was gone. He put his faith in these men, and spent a lot of time teaching, ministering, and loving on these men. He poured himself into them.
If you have been attending church at Hope for Warsaw, you have heard us say this before. That you need to be pouring yourself into others. What does that mean? Our church was founded on principles of intentional, relational, investment. As a child of God, it is our responsibility to invest, or pour ourselves into the people around us. Just as Jesus did, we need to spend time with God's people. We need to show them the love of God, and support them as they grow from the infants in Christ that we all start out with, to adults that can then pour into others as well. This is how we exponentially start to reach people for the gospel.
We see from Paul in Philippians that we should be using our life all for one purpose. To glorify God. This means that we need to take a harsh look at our lives and what fills it. We should be using discernment from God to decide what has priority in our lives. God's discernment will always lead you to reflect Jesus.
The hardest times to display Jesus is when things are going wrong in your lives. This is a tool that Satan uses to pull people away from God. The ironic thing is, people notice what you do most when things are going wrong. If you react negatively when hardships come, people will notice. What they will notice even more, is if you reflect Jesus during those hardships. The way we see it, this world has a pivotal opportunity to be light not darkness, hope not hopelessness, and to represent Jesus not the world. It is time for the church to stand up and be the church that it was meant to be.