For Others’ Sake, For Christ’s Glory
“25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.” (Philippians 1:25-26 NASB)
A man who thinks of himself too often or exclusively is not fit to serve Christ; nor is he of any benefit to others. A continual preoccupation of self and a lack of concern for others is the foundation for the disqualification of ministry.
Verse 25 starts off with Convinced of this. Convinced of what? Verse 24 tells us Paul knew it was more beneficial to continue living for the Philippians’ sake than to be with the Lord. Paul was a true minister. Though not explicitly stated in these verses, the true nature of ministry is being described. The word minister, though represented by several different Hebrew and Greek words, all mean to serve or servant. In some cases it literally means to be a waiter, making oneself available for tasks. This is more clearly seen as Paul goes on to say that he will remain and continue. The Greek word for remain is meno and it means to abide. The Greek word for continue is parameno. Paul supplements meno with the preposition para to emphasize the proximity of his abiding. Para means beside or along with. Paul is ultimately saying that he will come alongside them in their walk.
Now we see the initial reasons for Paul’s remaining and continuance in service. He says it was for their progress and joy in the faith. Unfortunately, many highly visible “ministers” in our culture don’t seem to reflect this desire. Self aggrandizement seems to be commonplace in many pulpits.
First, Paul labored for the Philippians’ progress. Progress in this text is a continual movement forward in ministry. Paul’s desire for them was to be used by God to advance the faith in other geographical areas. Also, progress is a movement toward loving the Lord and loving our neighbor as ourselves as Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-40. Paul alludes to this same thought in 1:9-11. It is also the fruit of the Spirit manifesting in our lives when we walk by the Spirit. Conversely, progress is a continual mortification of indwelling sin as Romans 8:13 says.
Secondly, Paul labored for their joy in the faith. The word joy is the Greek word chara and means gladness. A true mark of genuine salvation is a great sense of joy that has its origin not in anything earthly, but in God and in His will toward His children. The Psalmist gives us a great truth about where true joy is found in Psalm 16:11. It is my firm belief that an understanding of sound theology accompanied by faith and obedience will give rise to divine joy and heartfelt doxology. This is the reason that Paul labored so intensely and faithfully. Let’s examine our hearts in this matter. Are we laboring for the sake of others’ progress and joy in the faith? We have to be careful not to let pride or the desire for praise to creep in our hearts as we minister. Our service and exercising of spiritual gifts is meant to edify or build up others.
Verse 26 tells us the ultimate reason of Paul’s remaining. He knew that his remaining and being able to see them again would be the cause of their rejoicing. However, the true reason for their boast and their joy is Christ in seeing how He is loving them through Paul’s labor for and with them. Paul wanted them to rejoice in Christ alone.
The chief end of all service to and among man is the exaltation of Christ. If there are any that claim to be ministers and their passion is not ultimately the magnification and exaltation of Christ, they are not true ministers of the gospel and they labor in vain. May that never be said of us.
Prayer Lord, what a privilege it is to be used by You! Help us to never lose sight of what true ministry is. Increase our passion to lovingly come alongside of others for their progress and joy in the faith for Christ’s glory. Amen.