“Put the advance of the gospel at the center of your aspirations. Our own comfort, our bruised feelings, our reputations, our misunderstood motives—all of these are insignificant in comparison with the advance and splendor of the gospel. As Christians, we are called upon to put the advance of the gospel at the very center of our aspirations.
What are your aspirations? To make money? To get married? To travel? To see your grandchildren grow up? To find a new job? To retire early? None of these is inadmissible; none is to be despised. The question is whether these aspirations become so devouring that the Christian’s central aspiration is squeezed to the periphery or choked out of existence entirely.
I recall a Christian some years ago who always gave the same response when he was asked the numbing vocational question ‘What do you do?’ Invariably he would reply, ‘I’m a Christian.’
‘Yes, but I didn’t ask your religion; I asked what you do.’
‘I’m a Christian.’
‘Do you mean that you are in vocational ministry?’
‘No, I’m not in vocational ministry. But I’m a Christian, full time.’
‘But what do you do vocationally?’
‘Oh, vocationally. Well, I’m a Christian full time, but I pack pork to pay expenses.’
At one level, of course, his standard response was slightly perverse. Moreover, in God’s universe all morally good and useful work is honorable and not to be dismissed as of marginal importance.
Whether it’s packing pork or writing computer programs or baking a pie or changing a diaper, we are to offer our work up to God. We are His, and all we say and do, including our work, must be offered up for His glory and His people’s good.
But having insisted on that point, there are some elements of what we do that are more directly tied to the gospel than are others. Some things we do, and only some things, have direct eternal significance. As the apostle preserves gospel priorities in his prayers, so he preserves them in his aspirations. We must do the same… We are not more than a generation away from denying the gospel.
It may be that God has called you to be a homemaker or an engineer or a chemist or a ditch digger. It may be that you will take some significant role in, say, the rising field of bioethics.
But although the gospel directly affects how you will discharge your duties in each case, none of these should displace the gospel that is central to every thoughtful Christian. You will put the gospel first in your aspirations.
Then you will be able to endure affliction and persecution and even misunderstanding and misrepresentation from other Christians. You will say with Paul, ‘I want you to know… that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel’ (1:12).”
–D.A. Carson, Basics For Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 25-28.