TO CHEW ON: “Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” Philippians 2:17
Several times in his writing Paul uses metaphors of sacrifice for his life. These are word pictures that take us back to the Jewish sacrifices. He does that in Philippians 2: “… I am being poured out as a drink offering…” vs. 17.
The IVP New Testament Commentary Series explains the drink offering metaphor:
“The metaphor itself is taken from the Jewish sacrificial system. Pictured is the burnt offering (thysia, ‘sacrifice’), the service itself (leitourgia) and the drink offering poured out at the sanctuary (spendo) in connection with (not ‘on’ in Jewish ritual) the sacrifice (cf. Num 28:1-7)....
“Most likely, then, the whole clause is a metaphor for the present suffering that both he and they are experiencing at the hand of the Empire. He pictures his imprisonment as the drink offering that goes along with their 'burnt offering,' their present struggle in Philippi." (IVP Commentary accessed through the free resources at Biblegateway.com).
Our experience may not include seeing or being part of such a ritual. But even so it’s clear, I think, that Paul is talking about complete relinquishment of his life to the purposes of Jesus. His life is some sort of liquid—water, or wine, or perfume—poured out.
A more modern voice that sounds a lot like Paul’s on the matter of living the sacrificial life is Oswald Chambers. Here are some things he says in the book Biblical Ethics (all emphases added):
“The attitude of Christians toward the providential order in which they are placed is to recognize that God is behind it for purposes of His own” - Biblical Ethics, Kindle Location 554.
“The only way one can ever be of service to God is when one is willing to renounce all one’s natural excellencies and determine to be weak in Him. ‘I am here for one thing only, for Jesus Christ to manifest himself in me.’… We have to form the habit of letting God carry on His work through us without let or hindrance - Op. Cit. K.L. 3317.
“There was no ‘show business’ in the life of the Son of God, and there is to be no show business in the life of the saint. Concentrate on God, let Him engineer circumstances as He will, and wherever He places you…” Op. Cit. KL 3344.
What a contrast such a life is to Paul’s description of a group of people he calls “all” a little further down:
“For all seek their own, not things which are of Christ Jesus” - Philippians 2:21.
“For the others seek [to advance] their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ the Messiah” - Philippians 2:21 AMP.
“Sin is literally self-centered rule, a disposition that rules the life apart from God.” Chambers, Op.Cit. KL 4502.
I ask myself, as perhaps you do too, what sort of life am I living? A poured-out, drink offering life, or a self-centered one?
PRAYER: Dear Father, I find myself so often defaulting to self-rule. Help me to live the poured-out life, completely at Your disposal more consistently. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)