In this passage Paul shows his love for people. He discusses how he enters their lives in order to bring them to Christ. When I thought about why Paul would enter people’s lives like that, I was struck by his compassion for people as he would come alongside them. The Message translation is very good and clear here. Paul says he “didn’t take on their way of life, “ but “entered their world.” As you and I go about our daily lives at school or work or in the community we can come alongside people and with joy bring the love of Christ to them. Paul says “I kept my bearings in Christ, but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view.” (verse 22, The Message translation). Thank God that we can keep our bearings in Christ and that we have examples like Paul to show us that nothing is more important than Jesus.
Paul then discusses his favorite theme; nothing matters except Jesus and that He is worth setting our sights on. This time Paul uses athletics to illustrate; the athletes train to compete, and they run hard for a prize which in the end, fades.
This time of year is very poignant in the garden. The cool air makes us joyful and the slanting autumn light is beautiful. However, it is a time of fading, of slipping away, of goodbyes. The sunflower heads are bowed now. The flower stalks and leaves are dry and rustle in the wind. Paul would say, we are like athletes, but what we run for and to does not fade. Unlike many things in life which cause sadness when they end, the reward of knowing Jesus will cost us no sadness at all. Our life with Him will not fade like so many things we have loved on this earth, things which we remember fondly but will not experience again. We can look forward with joy to our life with Jesus.