The common introduction for Paul was to bless with ‘Grace and Peace’. Those are interesting words coming from the man that enjoyed little of both. His Christian life was full of wonderful joys, seeing thousands come to know Christ. However, simultaneously he underwent massive moments of traumatic suffering that would have broken the simplest or strongest of men.
What was it that kept Paul going? What was it that motivated him? In Philippians 1:27 Paul says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
What a powerful statement. Paul consistently overlooked the trauma he endured because he felt that if Jesus Christ could endure what He did on the cross, surely he could last a few nights in a prison and withstand a few beatings. Paul’s desire was to not let down his saviour. That was his motivation. He did not want to disgrace Jesus or prove to be an unworthy follower – one unwilling to lay down all to lead others to faith.
In the process Paul was ‘torn’ as he battled between desiring to see Jesus or remaining here on earth to be a blessing to others. He knew what choice had to be made, but how he longed to be with Jesus.
Paul’s infamous declaration in Philippians 1:21, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” is as foreign to us as a remote dialect of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Most of us will declare that, “For me, to live is me and to die is inconvenient to my five year plan.“
Many people fear death because it is engulfed with the unknown. Paul knew the result of death and in many ways he longed for it. Not to be absent from the earth but to be present with Christ Jesus. That sort of overwhelming ‘grace and peace’ is what he desired to project to others. That in grace and peace they would ‘conduct themselves worthy of the gospel of Christ.”