Come, Holy Spirit, fill my mind and heart with Your joy, Your light and Your love.
Read PHILIPPIANS 1:12-26
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Life is difficult. Paul faced three adversities: disappointment (12-14), detractors (15-18a), and death (18b-26). He has great advice for us as we face these same difficulties!
“If only I had more time and energy, I could do so much more for the Lord!” “If our church building were bigger, more central, we could initiate so many outreach projects.” “If our mission had more partners, our leaders were more imaginative, our funders were more generous…” Sometimes our dreams are blighted by constraints and complications. Our prayers flag between Gospel possibilities and situational barriers.
The Philippians may have been perplexed about Paul’s situation. Their beloved itinerant founder was grounded, his reputation compromised by the shame of imprisonment and by malicious rival preachers. His travelling plans and his vital pastoral input seemed to be sabotaged. Understanding something of their disappointment, Paul models an attitude of single-minded confidence in God’s sovereignty. He has one yardstick by which to measure his circumstances: the progress of the Gospel. He lifts their gaze from concern for him to what Jesus is doing. Evangelism has not been interrupted: in prison, every four hours, a new shift of elite guards, at the heart of secular power, hear the message. Outside prison, opportunities are being taken to speak of Christ, even if some motives are questionable.
Turning to the future, Paul’s benchmark is the same. Quite simply and movingly, the focus is on what will advance the Gospel. As he weighs up execution or release, he cannot decide which he prefers. The emotional language of longing, confidence and joy contradicts any notions of indifferent stoicism or suicidal thinking. The centrality of Christ dominates his argument, his name appearing nine times to highlight his priorities and hopes. With this one focus, Paul can be calm and trusting amid frustrating setbacks. It may not always be our problematic hurdles but our half-heartedness or our ego that get in the way of being effective for Christ.
As Paul faced life’s difficulties, what consuming passion was seeing him through? How can his example see you through your struggles? How might Christ be at work in your circumstances?
Lord Jesus, I long to be consumed with my love for You. I want to see You at work in my life and cooperate with Your goals.
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