But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel… Philippians 1:12
Isn’t it interesting how sometimes the most cursory reading of Scripture will bring to light a verse that has never really caught your eye before? That is exactly what happened to me recently as I read this sentence from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Paul writes these words to the saints in Philippi while imprisoned for the Gospel’s sake. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul writes of being imprisoned, beaten (often to the point of death), stoned, shipwrecked and adrift at sea. He describes facing danger from rivers, robbers, his own people and the Gentiles. He speaks of danger in the city, in the wilderness, at sea, and from false brothers. In toil and hardship, through sleepless nights, hungry and thirsty and exposed to the elements, Paul writes of the daily pressure and anxiety he endured for the well-being of the saints.
And yet, in all these things, Paul boasted in Christ alone and his heart remained inclined towards the furtherance of the Gospel.
When things go well for us, it is easy to imagine our lives working for the furtherance of the Good News of Jesus Christ. We tend to think that when people see how smoothly our lives are running that they will desire what we have in the Gospel. But what the world really needs to see is our confidence in Christ when our lives are turned upside-down, when we face bitter disappointments, or suffer heartbreaking loss.
We must not selfishly believe that our trials work only for our good (a truth found in Romans 8:28 to which we can rightfully cling) and forget that there is a bigger picture. A bigger picture that includes the fame of the Gospel and the Glorification of our Father in Heaven.
It is a walk of faith, brothers and sisters. Like Paul, our lives may include hardship. Lord, help us to be quick to relinquish our perceived rights to a comfortable life for the sake of His Glory and for the furtherance of the Gospel.
May we be ready to say along with Paul: …”I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Our victory is not just imaginary, it is real. May the whole of our lives reflect the truth of our Gospel inheritance.
By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel