Many team-building activities are built around a single premise – if a group of individuals can be united towards the same goal than there is little that can stop them from achieving it. This is why football teams rally together before the start of a game and recite the same chant in unison. It is why corporate America spends so much time drafting catchphrases that encapsulate their strategic plans. It is why churches have mission statements and non-profits have slogans. Having a unified theme, a common aim, motivates people towards its fulfillment.
In Philippians Paul writes about the goal that he has for his life, namely knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8). This was the goal that drove his work, that motivated his efforts, that allowed him to be content in every circumstance (Phil 4:11-12). If Christ was known more fully, than Paul’s mission was achieved. His desire was for Christ – for Him to be glorified and exalted, everything else paled in comparison.
Paul was fully aware that this goal may lead to unpleasant circumstances in his life. He had been imprisoned, beaten and persecuted all for the sake of his Savior (See 2 Cor. 11:23-29). He was threatened with hardship and even death for the sake of His King. Yet because of what drove Paul, because of his overwhelming desire to make Christ more fully known, he was satisfied with whatever circumstance God had for him. Life or death – it did not matter (Phil. 1:21). If God was to be glorified, Paul was pleased.
As John Piper said in a sermon on January 27, 1980:
“Life and death: they seem like such opposites; they seem so contradictory; they seem like enemies. But in Paul’s mind there is this unity somehow, so that whether by life or by death Christ would be magnified. The greatest longing he had would be fulfilled in both. So in a sense it was a matter of indifference to him which one the Lord would give him.”
This should make us stop and think: what is our greatest longing? What is the goal that motivates us – that keeps pushing us forward? Are we, like Paul, motivated by knowing Christ and making Him known? If so, than the situations that we face are inconsequential to the achievement of this objective. If this goal can be realized in our death than, like Paul, we know that “to die is gain” for Christ will be glorified and we will be with our Maker. If we must face hardship and persecution, are we glad to do so for the sake of Christ and His renown? Do we desire our comfort over magnifying Him? Do we choose convenience rather than exaltation of our Savior?
May this not be so. May our motivation in life be to bring glory to our King. May we live with this goal at the forefront of our mind and may we be willing to accept whatever comes our way – life, death, hardship or blessing – if as a result, He is magnified and honored. May His glory be the goal that unites our desires. May His renown be more important than our rights, being willing to sacrifice what “we deserve” for His majesty and grace to be put on display. May we not be mostly concerned about the outcome of our circumstances in this life, but the end result in eternity.