For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).Gain in dying is not so hard. When I die, I will go to be with Christ and enjoy Him and eternal life without the sorrows and struggles of this world. That is the Christian hope and the promise of God for us. The more difficult challenge is living for Him now.
In verse 20 Paul says that “Christ will be magnified in my body” and my first question is how do I do that? How can I live so that others see Jesus? How can He be greater and I be less?
I know the pat answers. Deny self. Praise and glorify Him. Yet I also know that some people do that without actually “magnifying Christ.” It is possible to think I am denying myself, but still drawing attention to me. It is possible to praise God, but others are noticing me.
I remember a class where one of the women spoke often of the Lord. Later, another person in the class was trying to recall the first woman’s name and said, “You know, the one using all the God-talk.” Her tone was mocking. For some reason, the other woman’s praise did not magnify Christ in her heart.
While that second woman could have been lacking spirituality, was her response indicative of something selfish in the first woman? I have not idea. Of course I assume that I am not responsible for the actions and responses of others, but am reminded of something Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).Jesus made commands that seem impossible. Christians know that we cannot obey Him in our own strength. However, with His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, I can do what He says. That means it is possible to live in such a way that people see what I do and glorify God, not me. That is, when they look at me they see Jesus.
While I shake my head at that, I also remember a man named Fred Barshaw whom I met in California. His light so shone before me that when I stood beside him, I felt as if I was standing beside the Lord. How did he do that? It is a mystery.
This coming year will be the year of the mystery then, the mystery of finding out what I must do, or not do, take up, or abandon, and so on. God will teach me how to magnify Christ by my life. Whatever else this might mean I’m absolutely certain that an adventure awaits me.