In my last post I shared about the importance of preparing someone to carry on one’s work when his/her time here on earth is complete. I want to follow up on that concept as we try to find our purpose in life. I remember Andy Andrews saying that if we are still alive, it means that our purpose hasn’t yet been accomplished. Whenever I think about my purpose in life, I am reminded about Paul’s great statement in Philippians 1:21. Paul was nearing the end of his life and he boldly proclaimed,
For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain (NASV).
Paul lived his life in such a way that it was clear to others that he believed death was profitable. Not only did he not fear death but he also looked forward to death. This was because he was convinced that physical death meant that he would be with his beloved Lord and Savior for all of eternity. This is why he counted everything that was once thought to have value here on earth as loss in order to know Christ intimately.
Even though I have quoted the above verse many times, I didn’t understand its full meaning until a few years ago. Until then, I never gave careful attention to the next several verses. In verse 22 and 23 Paul presents the battle that we all should be facing each and every day of our lives. Paul wrote how he was hard-pressed from both directions. He went on to explain what he meant by this statement. He was pulled in one direction to live as long as he could. However, he was also being pulled in the other direction of wanting to be in heaven with his Lord.
In fact, he wrote that he had a desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is much better. There is no doubt in my mind that if it were up to Paul, he would have quickly and gladly decided to be with Christ. Have you ever felt that way? I have on several occasions.
When we see what is happening all around the world, especially here in the United States, we may find ourselves wondering how long will the Lord tarry. There have been times when I am ready for the Lord to return or to take me home to be with Him. I am tired of living in this sin-wrecked world. However, I am still here! Therefore, I ask myself the question, Why am I still alive?
…yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for YOUR SAKE.
When I read that, it hit me that as long as I am alive here on earth, it is because it is necessary for me to be here for someone else’s sake. Have you ever thought about this truth? If so, who is the someone else that is keeping you here? Paul went on and described what it meant to remain here on earth for someone else’s sake in verse 25.
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith.
As a follower of Christ, Paul knew that, as long as he was alive, God’s purpose for his life was to lead others to grow in their faith with joy. Now there is a purpose we need to embrace with the determination that Paul had. Each and every day that I wake up breathing is a day that God has given to me to help someone else’s progress and joy in the faith. When I look at my calendar, I don’t merely see engagements that I have scheduled. Each event represents people that God wants to use me to help them mature in their faith. Now there is a purpose that I can get excited about! What about you?
- When you start a day, make a list of people that you will influence that day. It may be family members, students, friends, or even strangers you will come in contact with.
- Ask yourself what are you supposed to do for these different people that will help them progress in their faith with joy?
- At the end of the day review what you said to and did for these people. How did it help them mature in Christ?
- Finally, thank the Lord for allowing you the privilege to remain and continue with [them] for [their] progress and joy in the faith.
This will change not only how you look at life but also how you view the people you have the unique privilege of teaching and influencing. It will influence how you plan your lessons, coach a team or administrate a school. Remember that today is another opportunity you have to follow Paul’s example of how to thrive in life regardless of what is happening in the culture. You are here for a purpose – to help others grow in their faith!