16 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 nor toil in vain (Philippians 2).
Paul makes a figurative contrast here between “holding fast” and walking away “empty-handed,” whichis what the words “in vain” mean. If these Philippians will but “hold fast” or “pay close attention” to the “word of life,” the gospel, then in the end, when all is said and done, when Christ makes an end of this world and begins the next, well then, all of Paul’s work will have actually meant something. No one wants to walk away from anything empty-handed, and especially when it comes to evangelism and discipleship.
The greatest shock anyone will ever receive will be to those who, upon their deaths, suddenly find themselves before a righteous Judge, instead of a heavenly Father. This was not what Paul is writing about, for his salvation indeed was secure. No, he’s writing about another great shock, one experienced by believers only: the shock of seeing their work for the salvation and growth of others having been in vain.
Honestly, this is my greatest fear as a pastor — that in the end my work among God’s flock would be in vain. That either I not properly feed with solid biblical truth those entrusted to my spiritual care, or that they not receive such nourishment — or both.
Lord, may St. John’s always have a pastor who feeds his flock well, and a flock which thrives on such nourishment. May we all This Day be such people. Amen.