Later he talks about how if the Philippians do as he says, then he will have a reason to glory on the day of Christ Jesus. Even if he is being used up like a sacrifice, he is pleased to be happy for them. Verses 19-24 speak of Paul sending Timothy to visit the Philippians so Paul can be cheered up by Tim's report. Paul is going to dispatch Tim once Paul knows what is going on with his own plans. Paul brags on Tim as Tim, unlike all the others who look out for their own self-interests, has worked well with Paul, was concerned for the well-being of the Philippians and looked out for Jesus Christ's interests. Paul closes with his testimony about God's kindness to him by saving someone else's life...Paul would have been very sad and God had mercy on Paul - and that other guy who didn't die, too.
As I read this twice, I was struck by how much Paul talked about himself and his circumstances after the admonition to think of others, be unselfish, be humble. Is Paul that Paul-oriented? I mean, God showed him mercy by saving someone else's life...so Paul wouldn't be sad...
As I contemplated this, ( and believe me, I wanted God to give me a more noble lesson ), I was warmed to the idea that I don't know Paul well at all. I am, in essence, reading someone else's mail (by Divine Design, sure). But, I do know quite a bit about Paul from his history and other writings, some of which are just a few verses away. And while I do not understand this portion's motivation, I do know his heart and his passion. I do know he's human and needed a Savior like I did/do. So, when Paul's words bother me, remember grace. When I am a bit befuddled, Grace. I need it, I can offer it.
Now, the funny thing about this "lesson" is that recently I found myself in a similar situation. Words I thought were clear were misunderstood. You know when a scene is not playing out the way you intended by the sudden onset of silence. The silence was concluded by a response that completely surprised me. I had trouble even knowing how to frame it in order to answer. But, when you know a bit of the heart and the passion, you can grace the speaker despite the words. I know I did, I hope that the other person did, too. Esteeming others as better than yourself is a choice; but a good one to make.
Father God, I thank You for these timely words which have brought me peace. Strengthen me to choose humility, selflessness and self-sacrifice...those are not my natural tendencies. I praise You that You have graced me and equipped me to grace others. Let me be a grace warriorette for Your sake.