A. In these verses, we have a look into the personal choices that Paul made concerning his purpose in life. “For to me to live is Christ!” As a lost man, Paul persecuted the church because he thought that his cause was just. Salvation changed all of that and he immediately began to preach about the Christ that he had religiously persecuted. What a change salvation makes!
B. His earnest expectation and hope was that Jesus Christ his Lord would be magnified! He was imprisoned and did not know what the final outcome would be. People died in prison and people were executed while in prison. If the Lord allowed him to continue to live, his life would be lived for the glory of God. If the Lord allowed him to die, his death would also bring glory to the Lord. “As always, so now!” Paul fully intended to not let his present circumstances thwart his living for Christ.
C. The word magnified is one that we are familiar with as we use tools to magnify things every day. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, said that his purpose was to “magnify” Christ: to place in the light, to enlarge or bring to preeminence. I want to note two things that we use daily that can be applied to this verse.
1. A magnifying glass (bifocals in my case) that makes small things seem much larger. Jesus Christ needs to be made large in the eyes of the world and that can only be done when He is magnified in our lives. Magnifying Christ is making much of Him.
2. A telescope that makes an object that is far off seem to be much nearer. Jesus Christ needs to be made available to the world through His reality to us. As He is real to us, He becomes real to the lost and easily reachable.
D. Paul’s fear was that, in a moment of weakness, his life or death would bring shame to his wonderful Lord. That should be our fear also. Paul fully intended to live for Jesus Christ with all boldness for the testimony of the gospel’s saving grace and souls.
E. We have the same choices to make that Paul made. We can give up, slack off, get bitter, and walk away or we can hang in there, do what is right, and come through this life better for it or in spite of it.
1. Paul’s Preference and Pattern - 20-24
a. He chose to be Uncompromising - 17 “set...defense” It may cost you your friends and family.
b. He chose to be a Soul Winner - 18 “do rejoice ... will rejoice” It may cost you your time and pleasure.
c. He chose to be Unashamed - 20 “in nothing” It will cost you your pride.
d. He chose to be Bold - 20 “with all boldness” It may cost you with persecution - quietness brings no conflict.
e. He chose to be a Testimony - 20 “magnified ... life” It may cost you your liberty.
f. He chose to be Faithful - 20 “magnified ... death” It will cost you your life.
g. He chose to Trust - 20 “death” It will cost you your self-reliance.
h. He chose to be Holy - 21 “Christ” It will cost you your sinful pleasure.
i. He chose to be Used - 24 “abide ... needful” It will cost you your desires.
2. Our Choices
a. Today, we can have a good attitude or a bad attitude – Let us choose to have a good attitude.
b. Today, we can choose to trust God or not to trust God – Let us choose to trust God.
c. Today, when trials come, we can choose to murmur and complain
or to learn a lesson from hardship – Let us choose to learn a lesson.
d. Today, I can choose to be a blessing or a discouragement – Let us choose to be a blessing.
e. Today, we can choose to smile or to frown – Let us choose to smile.
f. Today, we can choose to be faithful or unfaithful – Let us choose to be faithful.
g. Today, we can choose to be used of God or to live for self – Let us choose to be used for God.
h. Today, we can choose to live in sin or to be pure and holy – Let us choose to be pure and holy.
i. Today, we can choose God’s blessing or God’s cursing – Let us choose God’s blessing.