"Be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain or toil in vain, but even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice of service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all." Philippians 2:15-17
The children of God prove their family lineage with spiritual DNA. The are "blameless and innocent" in the middle of a "crooked and perverse" generation. They are to be steadfast stars or bright lights that shine the brightest when thrown across the darkest backdrop.
Paul was more than content to be poured out as a "drink offering upon the sacrifice." To be more accurate, he was overjoyed at the prospect of it, if those who followed his lead in the race, or were the fruit of his labor proved to be "above reproach."
The children of God will always have the "crooked and the perverse" looking for the worst about them, and attempting to smear their good name in the court of public opinion. The current culture is filled with talking heads on TV, and hateful authors on the blogosphere, spewing reproach and ridicule on the fundamental beliefs of faithful Christians.
Even in a nation that has long held to Religious Liberty as a sacred right of citizenship, there is no escape or exemption from the "crooked or the perverse" judgments that are made on the children of God. It is going to get worse.
Paul's challenge to the early church in the face of the reproach was to be found by Christ, "holding fast to the word of life." In contrast, the contemporary church is all to quick to let it go, in oder to be found standing on the right side of history. This is just another way of describing selling out, and shutting up. But I digress.
Paul was willing to be crushed, poured out, and completely consumed on the altar of sacrifice, but in the end he wanted his life to count for something. Knowing that those he had led and taught were not just surviving, but were life-givng brought great joy to him.
The drink offering poured out upon the altar of sacrifice was always wine, never water. Before there could be a pouring there was planting, fertilizing, cultivating, pruning, waiting, harvesting, and crushing.
Simply put, there is no wine without crushed fruit. Paul's own fruit of The Spirit was being exposed. The crises of his life crushed him and prepared him to be poured out. He was not a prized bottle of wine kept on a shelf, and safely stored and sipped on special occasions. He was being extravagantly poured out and consumed by fire. Big difference.
The drink offering was an expression of Paul's life, and ministry being poured out on the altar of sacrifice. The offering of the fruit of his labor, the children of God. His offering was deemed worthy to be mingled with the blood of the sacrifice.
Paul lived to see The Fruit of The Spirit produced in his own life, and in the lives of those who were his disciples. When everything he gave his life for seemed to be crushed, Paul refused to let it bring resentment in his life. He chose to rejoice in it. The crushing of his fruit produced the drink offering that he poured out to honor the sacrifice Jesus made to produce the fruit.
Paul transformed potential resentment into positive joy by offering the crushing of his life's work and mingling it with the blood of Jesus on the altar of sacrifice. Anything that brought him closer to Jesus was always worth the loss. Through prayer, Paul would turn the reproach of others, and the crushing crises of life into times of rejoicing.
Prayer takes the crushed fruit of our lives and turns the bitter experiences into a sweet offering when what is crushed is poured out and mingled with the blood of Jesus. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!