“… according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20)
Sometimes in our reading, we come across a word, phrase, or perhaps even a sentence or paragraph that jumps off of the page and arrests our thinking. This particular verse is one of those that jumped out at me many years ago when I first started out as a very young evangelist.
It has remained to this day to like a chunk of red-hot coal that continues to burn in my heart and became a driving force to motivate me to “keep pressing on.”
Anytime a student of the Bible takes some time to read and reflect on the life and work of the apostle Paul it becomes very clear … and leaves no doubt … who was Paul’s dearest and closest friend … Jesus Christ! There was, quite frankly, no one else that meant more to Paul. As a result of this ever-growing relationship, the very thought of being with Him would become a source of great joy.
I have often wondered how this same relationship could become more common to witness among God’s people today. And the answer always seems to come back around … the better we become acquainted with the life and teachings of Christ … the more we learn of how He dealt with the issues of life … death … and everything and everyone that fall in between … the more we will come to love Him!
God’s people have a wonderful privilege with eternal ramifications … to help change the way mankind views Jesus Christ! The word “earnest” found in the NKJV carries the idea ‘of having one’s eyes fixed, concentrating on pleasing the Lord. Does that describe who and what we have our own eyes fixed on … or is it something else of lesser value than the Lord?
The apostle follows “earnest” with “expectation and hope” … meaning the possession of a desire leading to his expectation … not simply just being released … but that in any and all circumstances that lay ahead, he would be able to honor Christ in living or dying! There is a look … an attitude of someone who possesses this way of living … that of always glorifying the Lord. We might say in our vernacular today, ‘he wanted to stand up as a friend of Jesus Christ!’ Are you a friend of Christ?
Looking past the next two phrases that describe the depth of Paul’s desire to honor the Savior of mankind … the word “magnified” is used. We know the meaning of this word is concerned with ‘making an object more conspicuous, to make great, to extol and to honor.’
My brethren, we miss a very significant blessing and privilege if we overlook or diminish these thoughts. Our lives as Christians can be described as a “lens” that makes Christ become nearer and our holding Him up to the view of others as the true and only Savior.
A magnifying glass does not actually alter the nature of the object being viewed. It influences the view or the appearance of the object … just as a microscope or telescope. We don’t change Christ (Hebrews 13:8), but the view that people in the world have of the Lord can be improved by the manner of life we live as His people! “His name is already above every name. He is Lord of all!”
Each of us can so live that the world around us, those we know, love, work with, and live near, can see by our example (salt, light) that Jesus Christ is worthy of our efforts to follow and the very best illustration of One to pattern our lives after!
Does your life serve to “magnify Christ?”
Bill Fairchild, Jr.