It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:16
What will we boast in on the day of Christ? What will be the evidence that we did not run or labor in vain?
In other words, what in our lives are we most proud of right now? What is receiving the bulk of our time and energy? Where in our lives are we working hardest?
For Paul, the answer to these questions was clear. It was people. It was people who he had nurtured in their life of faith so that they held fast to the word of life. That is, it was people who really did live the Gospel; who put into practice what Paul had taught them about life in Christ.
So this much is clear. One day we will stand face to face with Jesus Christ. It is worth remembering that, and never letting that get too far from our minds. On that day, we’ll want to be able to look back on our lives in such a way that we are not ashamed of them; that we do not regret the choices we made; that we did not waste our lives and the opportunities before us. In short, we will want Jesus to be pleased with what we have done with our lives.
If we are learn from Paul’s example, the way to do that is not in worldly accomplishment or in a stock pile of nice things. It is from making people our primary investment. More specifically, it is teaching them about Jesus that, whatever our actual jobs may be, will become our life’s labor.
How are we doing that? How are we pouring our lives out like a drink offering to introduce others to Jesus, teach them what it means to follow him, and nurture them in our faith?
In the ways that we are do so, let us be encouraged. The sacrifices we are making are worth it; we are not running or laboring in vain. I know for many people in my parish, at least, the days get long and the body gets weary and we sometimes wonder if it is worth the effort. It is, dear brothers and sisters, it is.