In Philippians 1:22-26, we have the Apostle Paul’s dialogue, if you will, with himself. In this back and forth of thought, he wrestles with a major life decision. His decision is this, “If I had the choice to live or to die, which would I choose?” Now perhaps that questions strikes concern into you for Paul’s mental stability, but it gives us an incredible glance at the treasure of his heart because Paul will continue on to say, “I would choose death because it’s much better for me. When I die, I get Jesus!”
Paul so treasured Jesus that he’d rather die, lose all that this world has for him, and therefore gain Jesus! He truly thinks that death would be a better choice for him. But what follows this is what I want to focus on for the next few paragraphs. Paul follows up his realization of what would be best for him by saying what would be best for the church; to live. In Paul’s reasoning, it’s personally beneficial if he dies because then he gets the ultimate treasure, Jesus! However, if he lives, he can keep encouraging, strengthening, and equipping the church, which is better for them. So Paul’s question moves from “What is the best decision for me?” to “Do I choose what is best for me or what is best for the church?” Guess what he chooses?
In verse 25 we get these words from Paul, “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith…” Paul reasoned what was the best decision for himself, then reasoned what the best decision was for the church, and when those two things contradicted each other, he chose what was best for the church.
Let that sink in for a moment. Paul’s choice was what would be best for the church, not what was best for himself.
Do you consider the church in the decisions of your life? Do you ask yourself how your job change could affect your church? Do you consider how your moving would impact the work of God through your church in your community? Do you seek insight into how your decision to leave or stay at your local church would affect the advancement of the gospel?
Chances are, you are like I have been most of my life. I didn’t think about the church much in these decisions. If decision A was better for me, then it must be the right decision. I didn’t pay much attention to how that decision impacted the rest of the church. But what we see in Paul’s thought process here was a communal and missional mindset in his decision process. He thought about how his decision would affect the community of Christians (the church) and the mission (the advancement of the gospel).
I think it is safe to say that most of us have much room to grow in our consideration of the church in life’s decisions.
Here are 6 practical ways you can do this:
1. Discuss your decisions with your community group for wise counsel and insight.
2. Discuss your decisions with your pastors for godly counsel and wisdom.
3. Consider how it affects the relationships of those you are sharing the gospel with.
4. Consider how it affects those whom you know and who know you deeply through confession of sin. Will your decision drastically change these relationships?
5. Consider how your decision will affect the church financially.
6. Consider whether the ministry you are involved in will be able to flourish or if it will wilt through your decision.
Joshua Hedger is the Pastor of Preaching & Vision at Emmaus Church. He is married to Tish and they have an adopted teen daughter and a biological toddler son. Joshua has served in several other ministry roles including Director of Church Planting at Midwestern Seminary, planting another church, a youth pastor, and as a missionary in West Africa.