And if not…

Philippians Bible page


Philippians 1:19-20 – for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words from his incarceration by the imperial guard in Rome.  To make matters worse, people from the church were intentionally making life hard on him.  He wrote this letter to his Philippian friends, and he encouraged them.  I am certain the Philippians were praying for Paul.  They surely prayed for his release.

But what if God had other plans?  Paul was prepared for the worst, and he wanted the Philippians to be ready for whatever might come.  Should Paul face martyrdom, he wanted the Philippians to remain steadfast in faith.  Paul obeyed God and trusted Him for deliverance from his imprisonment whether by life or death.  Either way, Paul’s greatest concern was the honor of Jesus’ name.  He wrote, “Now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Perhaps Paul drew some inspiration from three men who came before him: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  These faithful followers of God refused to worship the king of Babylon.  They were arrested and ordered to worship the king of Babylon or be thrown into the furnace.  Their declaration of faith was amazing.  They announced that the one true God would save them from the flames.  And if not, they would still not worship the king of Babylon (Daniel 3:17-18).  And if not… those words stir my soul.  Their faith did not depend on the outcome of any one event.  They believed God was still God regardless of the outcome.

This is the message of Paul in Philippians 1:19-20 as well.  God is still God whether I live or die.  Paul trusted Jesus to do what was best for the kingdom of God, and so Paul would be at peace whatever came.

How about you?  Can your heart agree with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?  Do you share Paul’s sentiment?  We all face difficult situations, and we are right to cry out to God for deliverance.  But our faith should not depend on the outcome.  God never stops being God, and that is enough for me.

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