“In order that your glory might abound in Christ by me, as a result of my returning again to you.”
I wonder whether we genuinely rejoice in God because of the spiritual mentors that God has placed in our lives. Often we can remember the baseball coach or the Scoutmaster that helped us grow or achieve excellence in a particular area, but what of our pastors, our Sunday School teachers, and those other people that God has placed in the community around us that have pointed our minds and hearts towards heaven?
Paul is not making this statement because he is prideful or because he desires to “bask in the glory” of what he has worked in the lives of the Philippians. He says that it is more needful for them that he return so that they can celebrate what God has done in their lives through him. Why is it more needful? I believe that again the answer lies in the relationship that Paul had with those in this church. He had guided and mentored them and they were engaged in his ongoing ministry not only through financial gifts but more importantly, through prayer. As the writer of Hebrews sets forth, we are to remember those in prison as well as though we are in prison with them for we are one body (Hebrews 13:3). Thus, Paul’s release would be a kind of release for them as well and they would be able to celebrate the answered prayers that they had lifted up.
Obviously, God does not answer all of our prayers in the ways that we would like or expect them to be answered, nevertheless, God is Good. The question that then we must raise is not whether or not God answers as we would like — He is God, we are not, such then is not purview — but to ask ourselves, are we so invested in our missionaries and our mentors in prayer that we would glory in God for what God has done through those we have sent off or through those who have cared for our spiritual needs? All too often, we are selfish and when we fall into selfishness, we fail to recognize that often our greatest need is to celebrate that which God is doing in another part of the body of Christ.
So, what is the doctor’s remedy for our selfishness? There are two parts. First, find someone who has mentored you spiritually and thank them. Trust me, it will mean a great deal. Second, find a missionary or a ministry that you or your congregation has supported that is healthy and growing and celebrate it to the glory of Christ. Take pleasure in what God is doing in the life of others even if he is not doing the same kind of work in your life…right now at least.