October 1, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”—Philippians 2:16–18 (NIV)
Did you hate doing chores when you were a kid? I certainly did. Just like a lot of kids, I would’ve rather spent my time doing something that brought me joy, so when it came time to do the work my parents asked me to do, they’d often be met with a passive aggressive eight-year-old.
As a pastor’s kid, I was no stranger to what my dad loved to call a “teaching moment.” Sometimes these were long-form lectures, other times it was just him calling out the phrase “happy to do it!” He was always referencing the same point—it was not only dishonoring to my parents, but to the Lord when I approached servanthood with grumbling. I had a hard time wrapping my head around that concept when I was a kid, but after reading this passage from Paul, I can see a true example of this very practice.
Paul’s life at this point wasn’t going great from our standards—he was in the depth of persecution and realistically was looking at death because of his faith in God. During this correspondence with the congregation in Philippi, Paul is describing his time in prison, not as a time he views as suffering with no cause, but something to even be celebrated. So many in Paul’s situation would probably find themselves grumbling and thinking this was all for nothing, but he reminds the church that this labor is not in vain.
Next, Paul refers to himself as “being poured out like a drink offering,” which is in reference to an Old Testament practice of worship (Numbers 15:1–10, 28:1–8). In that time, once a sacrifice was made (usually some sort of animal), the priest would pour wine next to the altar to symbolize the dedication of someone in worship to God. Paul is relating his life as this wine being poured out for those he served. He finds joy in this because this service is all in the name of God. Paul ends this passage asking the church to join him in his joy for these sufferings as they will never be in vain and that is something that should truly be celebrated.
So, what can we learn here? There are always going to be times of servanthood in our lives that aren’t very fun or glamorous, whether directly related to our faith or not. Therefore, we should approach every moment as an act of worship to God. In the words of my dad, everything we do we should be “happy to do it” for it is all for our Creator.
Pause: Has God ever called you to serve someone in a way you found yourself grumbling about?
Practice: Take some time in these moments to thank God for the opportunity to serve Him and His people. Thank Him for ensuring that nothing we walk through in this life is in vain.
Pray: Father, I may not always understand why I’m called to do something, but thank You for the opportunity. Even in my suffering, You call me to have a posture of joy and humility. Make my heart soft in these moments, and help me reflect on this gratitude. Amen.
Kristen Hollis has served in the Communications Team of Calvary since 2020 as a Senior Copywriter and Editor. She contributes and edits content for Calvary’s digital and promotional initiatives. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communications from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Kristen and her husband Zachary enjoy all things musical theatre, vinyl hunting, and having the opportunity to serve Calvary on staff while utilizing their talents.