When you think of Old Testament sacrifices, you probably think of animals. And it’s true! God’s people worshiped Him by offering lambs, bulls, and sometimes even doves or pigeons. But they also worshiped with other kinds of sacrifices, including grain in the form of flour or cakes. These were offered with oil and incense (Leviticus 2; 6:14–23). Sometimes wine was also poured out as part of the offering (Ex. 29:40–41; Lev. 23:13).
In today’s passage, the apostle compares his ministry to a drink offering (v. 17). Although Paul knew he might die soon, this image also fits his ministry in general. His life was being poured out “on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith.” Paul compares the Philippians’ faith and obedience to an offering made to God. His own life and ministry was a drink offering poured out at the same time as theirs (see Num. 15:5). This echoes Paul’s earlier assertion that he and the Philippians shared the same experience of suffering for Christ and the same grace that helped them stay faithful (Phil. 1:7).
Offering his service and possibly even his life to God brought Paul great joy. Because of this, he urged the Philippians to rejoice with him (v. 18). He did not see what had happened to him as a tragedy. He saw serving God, no matter the cost, as a privilege. Because of this, he asked the Philippians to rejoice with him. In these verses, Paul speaks not only of opportunity but of God’s control. Paul could rejoice despite his imprisonment and even the prospect of possible death because he knew that God was the master of his circumstances.
>> Paul describes the Christian life as a “living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1). Even though your situation is not as extreme as Paul’s, each day offers many opportunities for you to “pour out” your life to God as an expression of thanks. How will you serve God today?
We easily forget that You are in control, Father. Remind us every day that You are the ruler we have given our lives to. Help us grow in joy and submission as we pour out our lives to You.