Philippians 1:25-26 Devotional
Philippians 1:25-26. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Reflection. As we saw when we looked at Paul’s prayer for the Philippians, his hope for them was Christian maturity, discerning and fruitful lives (1:9-11). He also rejoiced in the work of God already visible in them (1:3-5). Last week we learnt that for Paul a life spent in service is synonymous with living for Christ (1:21-24). Paul brings those threads together in the two verses we are looking at today.
Though death is gain (1:21) and it is better by far to depart and be with Christ (1:23), Paul considered what was necessary for others over what he desired for himself (1:24). Choosing to remain, should he escape death (1:20), meant service: “fruitful labour” (1:22). As we unpack what that will look like, we must ask of ourselves: why do I desire longevity. Is it for self or the service of others?
Paul says that if he remains it will be “for your progress and joy in the faith” (1:25). Is that something you envision for the remainder of your life? Are you willing to give yourself to seeing your brothers and sisters in Christ mature in their faith? Is that something you desire, work towards, and derive joy from? Later Paul demonstrates that his joy abounds when he sees maturing faith (2:2), an aspect of that is Christians supporting and strengthening one another (1:27-2:5). Do you know joy when you see other Christians maturing? Do you find the joy of other Christians contagious? We should. In fact, we would if only we could follow Paul’s example as he followed Christ, making the faith of others our passionate priority. Paul’s purpose in remaining should be ours in living: to see others progress in their faith and experience the joy that is found in Christ and his people.
Paul’s second purpose in remaining is clearly tied to the first (1:26). Though some commentators think that the Philippians’ boast would abound because of Paul’s release and return, that seems to ignore the context. This is not some boastful spite directed at Paul’s enemies (1:15-18). It is a restatement of Paul’s commitment to the gospel. Notice that the boasting is “in Christ Jesus” (1:26). Therefore it is safe to conclude that this would be the result of Paul’s ongoing ministry, to help Christians progress in their faith, learn greater joy, and abound in making much of Christ (1:25-26). If Paul was to remain with the Christians at Philippi he hoped that his presence would point others to Christ Jesus. Paul’s confidence, as we have seen in previous posts, was fixed on Christ (3:2-11). Therefore if God gave him more time with the Philippians he would set out to increase the confidence (or boast) others had in Christ.
Though Paul’s release from prison and return to Philippi would represent the power of God, their confidence should not stem from changed circumstances. If Paul were to come to them again he would not brag of overcoming his struggles; he would boast in Christ who is with his people in their struggles. This may have initially resulted in them boasting in Christ. But Paul is committed to their progress by his service, leading them to boast in Christ, not Paul. Likewise, we must serve others with the desire to see their faith mature and their boasting in Christ abound.