Being Poured out for God’s Glory, Part Five: The Proclamation of the Gospel
This all results in the proclamation of the gospel. Verse 17 always grabs my attention when Paul says that he will be “poured out” for the gospel. In this passage, Paul is most likely not referring to death when he says being poured out because earlier in Philippians 1:24-26 he says that he feels God still has plans for him to help them grow.
When he refers to himself as a drink offering and them as sacrificial offering, he is referring to the Jewish sacrificial system mentioned in Numbers 28. In that passage, the offerings are described as a “pleasing aroma” (Numbers 28:2,6) similar to how God saves us for his “good pleasure.” Paul does not refer to himself as the only sacrifice, but they are a sacrifice as well. He is getting them ready to further the gospel but is also telling them that they are just as much a sacrifice as he is and will have to sacrifice as he did.
We must remember that the cross overturned this system of sacrifices. Jesus’ death on the cross became the ultimate sacrifice and got rid of the need for animal sacrifices. Because of his sacrifice, he has both called and empowered us to be able to sacrifice our lives for the furtherance of his name.
In My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers’ wrote, “Are you ready to be sacrificed like that? Are you ready to be less than a mere drop in the bucket—to be so totally insignificant that no one remembers you even if they think of those you served? Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and exhausted—not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister? Some saints cannot do menial work while maintaining a saintly attitude, because they feel such service is beneath their dignity” (My Utmost For His Highest, February 5).
Most of us may think that we would die for the gospel, yet we do not live for it. We believe that in the time of great need and suffering that we would find great courage, but we overlook the small things. We may wish to be poured out in a great manner, but the small everyday tasks almost seem beneath us. To be poured out does not only mean to die for one’s belief but to live through the everyday, menial tasks and serve God with every opportunity presented.
This also is to be done in a glad spirit. Rather than looking at serving as a duty or obligation, it should be viewed as a blessing. “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Corinthians 12:15). In this passage Paul says that he will do this gladly. How often will we serve God but do it in a begrudging manner? It is a gift to be able to live and serve God in any and every situation.
I once read the story of a Masai warrior named Joseph. His story was so powerful it won him an audience with Billy Graham. One day, Joseph accepted Christ after being told the gospel by a man on an African road. He was so filled with joy that he returned to his village and began sharing the gospel with them as well. He went from door to door telling the people about Christ, but they responded violently. The men held him down while the women began to beat him with barbed wire. After he was beaten, they took him away and left him to die.
He somehow managed to crawl to a nearby watering hole and get his strength back. Thinking that he somehow must have told the story wrong, he rehearsed it again and again before returning to the village. He eventually returned to the village, and for a second time, he was beaten then left to die.
A few days later, Joseph awoke again and decided to return to his village to once again preach the gospel. Before he even had a chance to speak, the villagers again began to beat him. As he was being flogged, he told them the story of Jesus. Before passing out he saw that the women who were beating him had begun to cry. When he awoke this time, he was in his own bed. The villagers that were just beating him were now nursing him back to health. He later found out that the entire village had come to Christ. (http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByScripture/2/806_Called_to_Suffer_and_Rejoice_To_Finish_the_Aim_of_Christs_Afflictions/)
He was no longer pouring himself out in a metaphorical sense for these people, but his blood was very literally being poured out for them. This is what it looks like to be poured out for the gospel. Not just once did he witness to these people, but three times after much pain and sacrifice.
Paul ends this portion on a note of rejoicing. Why do we never rejoice with those who are suffering? We try to comfort them, but maybe we should instead seek to rejoice with them. Though much pain and sacrifice lay ahead of him, he knew that his strength and power came from the Lord. He knew that suffering was a cause of rejoicing because of how it furthered the gospel. Not only did he wish to be poured out in every aspect of his life and death, but he took great joy in it and has called us to do the same. Later, when he knew his time had come, he uses this expression again. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6-7).