January 03, 2019

Fruitful Labor

I sat at the table, drinking my daily cup of coffee. Enjoying the treat of having cream in said coffee, I opened my Bible to Philippians 1. The pastor had preached from that chapter yesterday. Reading aloud to the four year old on my lap, verse 22 struck me.

"If I am to live on in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me."  (ESV)

In verse 21, Paul declares that, "to live is Christ, to die is gain." This is the better known verse. And in many churches we hear frequent reminders of why death is gain. "My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better" (v23). But why can Paul say to live is Christ?

Because of his certainty of the truth of verse 22. That is, there are no doubts in his mind that an extension of his life would serve Christ and His church. More life equals more fruitful labor.

Is this true for me? Do I walk in that same confidence? Is my desire to live a long life tied to fleeting things like seeing my grandkids, having a successful elk hunt (someday, maybe), or having the opportunity to travel? Perhaps I could get some of those books written that keep kicking around my head. These things aren't bad. They aren't wrong to desire. But Paul is on a different wavelength.

He knows that by pressing on in service of Christ (see chapter 3), he will be doing work of value. So life, though hard, is worth it. Communicating the gospel is worth the pain of chains. Sharing Jesus' love outweighs the perils of shipwreck. The weight of caring for the churches is overwhelmed by the joy of seeing them grow. He knows his labor will bear fruit. He knows Christ will build his church. He lays hold of the promises, and he presses on. His life was one of fruitful labor. Would that mine might be as well. 

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About Me

Follower of Jesus. Husband of one. Father of four. Pastor at Remsen Bible Fellowship (remsenbible.com).