It was a secret as deep but also as simple as possible; it was the Lord Jesus Christ. Really and literally, Jesus Christ was the one ruling consideration for St. Paul; not himself, his claims, position, influence, feelings; not even the Church. To him the Church was inestimably precious, but the Lord was more. And all his thoughts about work, authority, order, and the like, were accordingly conditioned and governed by the thought, What will best promote the glory of the Lord who loved us and gave Himself for us? . . . . "that Christ may be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death."
"According to my eager expectation," my waiting and watching, with outstretched head, for some keenly wished-for arrival, or attainment. Such was this man's thought and feeling with regard to the "magnification" of Christ through his life and death. It is his "hope," it is his absorbing "expectation." It is to him the thing with which he wakes up in the morning, and over which he lingers as he prepares to sleep at night. It is the animating inner interest which gives its zest to life. . . . all this, only very much more, is the "magnification of Christ in his body" to the prisoner who sits, never alone, in the Roman lodging. It is this which effectually forbids him ever to find the days dull. Its light falls upon everything; comforts, trials, days of toil, hours of comparative repose, prospects of life, prospects of death. It quickens and concentrates all his faculties, as a great and animating interest always tends to to; it is always present to his mind as light and heat, to his will as rest and power. It secures him the quiet of a great disengagement and liberty from selfish motives; it continually drives him on, with a force which does not exhaust him (for it is from above) in the ambition and enterprise which is for Christ; giving him at once an impulse toward great and arduous labors, and a patience and loving tact which continually adjusts itself to the smallest occasions of love and service.
. . . . The ultimate secret of the noble phenomenon resides not in St. Paul but in Jesus Christ. "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me" (Gal. 1:15, 16). The man had seen his Savior with his whole soul. And because of--not the man who saw but--the Savior who was seen, behold, the life is lifted off the pivot of self-will and transferred to that of "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The same "revealing" grace can lift us also. We are not St. Pauls; but the Jesus Christ of St. Paul is absolutely the same, in Himself, for us. We will, in His name, place ourselves in the way of His working, that He may so shew us His fair countenance that we may not be able not to live, quiet really, for Him as the enthralling Interest of life.
. . . . "That Christ may be magnified," may be made great. In what respect? Not in Himself; for He is already "all in all"; "filling all things"; "higher than the heavens." Such is He that "no man knoweth the Son but the Father"; the mind of Deity is alone adequate to comprehend His glory. But He may be magnified--relatively to those who see Him, or may see Him. To eyes which find in Christ only a distant and obscure Object, however sacred, He may be made to occupy the whole field of the soul with His love and glory. . . . so it is when through a believer's life "Christ is magnified" to eyes which watch that life and see the reality of the power within.
. . . Has not the Lord been made very near to us, and very luminous, in the face of father, mother, brother, sister, friend or pastor? Have we not seen Him shining large and near us in their holy activities, and in their blessed sufferings, shedding His glory through all they were and all they did? . . . . May he make it always our ambition to be thus His magnifiers. But may He keep it a really pure ambition. For even this can be distorted into the misery of self-seeking; an ambition not that Christ may be magnified, but that His magnifier may be thought "some great one" in the spiritual life.
. . . . Blessed be our life, as day by day brings ceaseless occasions for the pursuit of our dear ambition--"that Christ may be magnified" (Philippian Studies, pp. 55-61).