Sharing in the Sacrifice

What an amazing and wonderful picture the totality of the sacrificial offering was. Amazing because the commanded ritual involved life and death, flesh and blood… all by faith. It was wonderful because it played an integral part in the lives of God’s people of the Old Testament (Leviticus 1-6) that ultimately served as a shadow (Exodus 12:14ff; 1 Corinthians 5:7) both of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice as well as the Christian’s service to God (Romans 12:1-2). Understood in this manner we can begin to understand what the apostle Paul meant when he said to his brethren in Philippi, “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. (Philippians 2:17, NAS). The imagery is beautiful when reading Paul’s words through the eyes of a Hebrew whose life was filled with ceremonial sacrifices. You have the apostle who regarded himself as a drink offering being poured out, while the Christians at Philippi were regarded as the sacrifice itself. Further, Paul regarded their active work as theservice of (their) faith.

Combined together within the context of this figurative offering is the apostle’s urge for them to serve like Christ. You see, without their “gift” (Phil. 1:5; 4:15ff) – which Paul called their “sacrifice and service of (their) faith” – Paul’s drink offering (his preaching) – in a sense – would not have been possible. Stated more clearly, Paul’s preaching of the gospel was made possible by their financial support, for which he rejoiced and shared his joy with them. Today, the efforts of those who preach the gospel are made possible by the sacrificial offerings of Christians, who support and share in the gospel message through their financial contributions. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things.” (Romans 10:15, NAS)… and those who make it financially possible for their feet to go forth in the spreading of the good news!

Paul’s joy would not be made complete, however, unless they (Philippian Christians) would live blamelessly, as he urged them (Philippians 2:1-4; 12-16). He wanted them to “have the mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5ff) Who served as our perfect pattern of sacrifice. In this way the service of our faith – looking out for the interest of others – is what Christianity is all about – from the preaching of the word to the fellowship that exist among the saints. Failing in this endeavor hinders and even destroys the faith of those whom Christ sacrificially died for and for whom Paul sacrificially gave his life to seek and save through the message of the cross. By standing firm and “holding fast to the word of life” we all have “reason to glory” and our “sharing in the sacrifice” will be made complete in Christ… all to the glory of God (Philippians 2:16).

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