Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
(Philippians 2:17-18 ESV)
In Israel’s Temple-worship system (established by God in the Old Testament), a drink offering involved pouring out wine on top of a sacrificed animal as an illustration of a life poured out in service to God. Wine was used as a symbol for blood – in which there is life.
Paul is in prison as he wrote this letter to the Philippians, facing possible execution. He envisions that his life may soon be poured out on behalf of the faith of the Philippians – and the others he has told about Christ. Paul may die for his service to God.
Even though that was a distinct possibility, Paul was filled with joy. Paul could have chosen to be sad about what could happen to him. Instead he chose to be happy about the life he had lead. He had brought the Gospel of Jesus to people all over the Mediterranean. He had planted churches there as well. Those churches were growing and, of course, eventually covered all of the earth. The global spread of Christianity can be traced back 2,000 years to Paul.
For this Paul was glad. And he wanted the Philippians to not be sad about his possible execution. He wanted them to rejoice in his life. Paul had already stated that whether he would live or die, it would be for the glory of God [Philippians 1:21-24]. And this brought him joy.
Joy is not based on circumstances, but in a life totally committed to Jesus Christ. When someone who has lived their life for Jesus’ sake dies, it is not a cause for mourning. It is a cause for celebration as that person is now with their Lord. It is also a time to joyfully reflect on the sacrifices that person made on behalf of his savior who made the ultimate sacrifice for him.
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