Does that sound shocking? I think so. And yet the Apostle Paul himself writes of the possibility of his life’s work being “in vain” (Philippians 2:16). What will your life count for? And what will make it count for something?
Paul’s concern is that the Christians he’s served in the past might end up going nowhere. He wants the Philippians to keep going. If they do keep growing in their faith, he says they’ll “shine like stars”. “And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain.”
Imagine that! Paul running in vain! What is it that makes his labour count for something? - It’s the effect it has on others. If they go nowhere - it’s worthless. And he says to them, in turn, that their joy will be found as they serve him and spur him on.
Our worth as Christians is our effect on others. Have we helped them? Have we served them? Has our labour got anything to show in them?
The popular motto is: “So long as I don’t affect others”. Our motto should be the opposite: We must affect others. It is not enough to be going well ourselves, running our own little race well. That is worthless unless others are influenced.
• Who are you serving in church? Who can be spurred on because of your influence? (It’s not enough to enjoy it yourself.)
• Who will you bring to church, so that they can hear the word of life too? (It’s not enough for us to enjoy it ourselves.)
• Who is struggling with life, that you can help through? (It’s not enough that you’re keeping on top of life, on the whole.)
• Who can you talk to about Jesus? (It’s not enough that we know him ourselves.)
“And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain.”