For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.

2 Timothy 4: 6

 

Paul chooses to set out a rather strange image regarding the value of his life from God’s perspective and in his own. He equates the sum total of his life’s work to a quart or so of wine, the best and the strongest of wine, mind you, but it was still just a liquid beverage. Yet, it was not just any wine. It had purpose, and it had deep and powerful meaning. And that meaning was made real in the act of sacrifice. In one instant it was nothing more than the fluid product of the grape industry. However, as it was taken by the priest and offered up to God as a freely-given gift of sacrifice, the end of its existence as it was consumed in the fire of the altar transforms it into a fragrant aroma that rises to heaven. This is the end of earthly life reality that Paul is describing, and it is also the way that he held all of life after he came to know Christ.

 

Jesus had changed everything for Paul. This is exactly what Christ does for anyone who hears Him, surrenders to His will, and follows Him. We are changed. Transformed from being the ordinary into people who are granted God’s gift of grace that leads to eternity, and we are called into service to God in this world. He provides each of His own children with all that we need to enter fully into that service. We are given gifts of His Spirit, wisdom and discernment, knowledge and the truth of God’s Word, and strength and encouragement from Christ’s Spirit. Also, like Paul, we are adopted into a new family of faith that is comprised of all of the other people who have surrendered themselves into a relationship with God through Jesus. As we accept Christ, we are also accepting the reality of following Him all the way through life and into death. As Jesus gave up His life to be poured out as an offering, so He asks the same of each of us.

 

This is not a solitary act of sacrifice. Paul lived his life of personal surrender to Christ in the midst of his world. His life of surrender to the cross of Christ was conducted as the Lord dictated and arranged. Paul was nothing more than a willing follower whose body was the vessel that carried the true sacrificial drink that was his entire existence. He gave all and lived out that giving in full view of the world. He also willingly served the needs of those who God brought into his presence. He loved and cared for people without regard for their history, family, status, power or lack of it, or their acceptance of him. Paul spoke the truth of the gospel of Christ in words and in deeds of service. He speaks of an attitude toward life that we all should hold. So, the question is, as we are poured out today, will the fragrance that remains behind be that sweet aroma of grace that is lovely to God?