Without a doubt, we would have to agree that the most important person in the history of the Christian Church was the Apostle Paul. And if anybody was indispensable to the cause of Christ, it was Paul. Doubtless he was the driving force behind those early believers. And yet, the very opposite is the case. In his letter to the Philippians, we discover the true philosophy of this Apostle. It was not Paul who kept the cause of Christ going, it was Christ who kept Paul going. He testified, “by the grace of God I am what I am” (I Corinthians 15:10 NKJV). He confessed that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I am the worst of them all” (I Timothy 1: 15 NLT). Paul’s life philosophy can be summarized in these words: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NIV).
Jesus too had a philosophy of life that would exhaust time and space. He was God in the flesh, representing to man all that God is and His plan for humankind. Take time to read it in Colossians 1:15-22. Consider these statements about Jesus from John’s Gospel NLT: “In the beginning, the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1). He asserted that “before Abraham was even born, I AM” (8:58). He said: “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (10:10). He told His disciples: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (14:6). Scripture abounds with Jesus’ philosophy.
Marriage is a perfect illustration of having a philosophy of life. When two people are joined in matrimony, it is always “for better or worse, sickness and health, until separated by death.” It is the same when we trust Christ as personal Lord and Savior. We become married to Him as the Bride of Christ. Nothing can separate us from His love nor defeat His purposes. Paul had a Christian philosophy of life and so should ours be as well.
And, like marriage, it will be:
For better or worse. Paul expresses his joy that people were saved even when the Gospel was preached by some for wrong motives. His joy was not thwarted by his critics or the fact that he was in prison. And as it turned out, soldiers, slaves, and government officials heard the Gospel message (Philippians 1:12-18). His chains were a blessing, not a curse. You might not be in prison, but you could be chained to a sick bed, a wheelchair, or poverty. You might even feel that your life is without purpose. Beloved, did you ever stop to think that God can transform the bleak barriers in your life into a mighty pulpit? He can give you a congregation you might not otherwise have. Do not look at life from a selfish standpoint but view it from God’s perspective.
On October 14, 1829, Alexander Duff sailed for India with all his belongings, but the ship sank, and everyone’s possessions were lost. He reached ashore, looked back, and saw something floating toward land. He waded out and retrieved what was his Bible. He saw this as God’s leading and began a career as a missionary. Duff began with a Bible and five boys under a tree, and within a week he had three hundred students. Years later a chapel stood where that tree was along with one thousand students! A shipwreck had fallen out to the furtherance of the Gospel. God never said life would be a rose garden, but, as Billy Graham admitted: “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’” God will meet you where you are so that He can take you where He wants you to go.
A Christian philosophy, like marriage, should include:
In life or in death. Paul was especially thankful for the prayers of others on his behalf. He was confident that he would be either vindicated, released from prison, or avoid execution. His great ambition was that his life would bring honor to Christ, whether he lived or died. When we give our hearts to the Lord in life, death is but a passing incident, not a tragic end. A veteran returned from a war with his arm severed. When people tried to console him, he protested: “I did not lose my arm, I gave it.” When you have given your all to the Lord, you have lost nothing at all.
Paul faced two alternatives: to live for Christ or die for Him (Philippians 1:19-26 NLT). Death, for Paul and for us, is a mere departure, a lifting of the anchor and setting sail, a pulling up of the tent stakes after a brief campsite. Verse 21 is the key verse: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Remove the words “Christ” and “gain” and you have the world’s philosophy: “For me to live is to die,” Beloved, that may be why the Lord has not already taken you to Heaven. He wants to further His Gospel and bring rejoicing to the hearts of others. Do not be discouraged or filled with self-pity and wish for death. You are better off alive than dead. Just take care of your life and let Him take care of your death! No two philosophies are alike so prayerfully create your own after Paul’s example. That is your homework assignment.