I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.
DEVOTION – FEBRUARY 10, 2019
Lately, in our church, it has been incredible to see how much of our preaching and teaching has taught me about perspective and faithfulness in the midst of suffering. Check out Terry Feix’s latest teaching series on Job to really dig deep in this area.
We are told clearly in the Bible that as we live out our lives in Christ, we will suffer for his name. Jesus does not hide this fact. But, in our culture today, we tend to avoid suffering at all costs, hoping to reduce our pain by any means necessary. When we endure suffering, we tend to lose perspective. As Terry mentions in his teaching of Job, suffering causes our world to shrink.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we learn from him how we should always approach suffering in our life. Paul is in prison because of his ministry. He is constantly chained to a member of the Roman imperial guard. Prison during the time of the Roman Empire had the same connotation it does now, and people in the church may have been distancing themselves from him and criticizing him. Surely he would have been afraid that his circumstances could jeopardize his influence, his ministry, and his relationships.
Yet Paul says, “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Paul didn’t let this time of suffering shrink his world. He continued to be faithful and preach the Word boldly to every single guard who was chained to him during his time in prison.
The result? Paul tells us, “it has been known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.” These members of the imperial guard, these men that Paul was chained to for such a long time, were incredibly important men. They were hand-picked and given double pay. They were incredibly influential in Roman society, both during their military assignments and after. And day after day, Jesus Christ was revealed to them with joy, excitement, and praise by Paul.
God used Paul’s faithfulness during his time of great suffering to take the gospel into the heart of the Roman Empire. Our world may seem to shrink in suffering, but God does not. In your life today, as you are in a difficult season, do not lose heart. You have no idea what God may do through your faithfulness. Trust that His perspective is so much greater than ours. His love is greater than we could ever fathom.
Would I suffer to advance the gospel? If I call Jesus Christ my Lord, my answer must be “yes.” May we pray daily that our perspective would be his perspective. May we pray that he use our suffering and reveal his glory to others because of how we faithfully serve him, no matter the cost.
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