“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (1)
Hardships are means in God’s hands to mature faith, and character that conforms us into the image of Christ. God uses them as an instrument to chisel away pride, and selfishness so we can serve others more effectively. The results help distribute the gospel that brings glory to God.
The Apostle Paul was an ambassador for Christ in propagating the gospel message. Although he was living in the tensions of life, shut up in prison, it did not stop him from dispersing God’s word. He used his circumstances to position himself in a place that would fulfill his purpose in life…solely to love and care for people. People matter!
Paul was continually filled with praise and joy. What made Paul content in those circumstances? How could he worship God in a dirty, cold prison?
Here are five principles that resonate with me on why Paul used his circumstances for God’s glory.
1. Paul’s suffering was visible to everyone which was an advantage because it ws used to proclaim Christ. He was qualified; life wasn’t easy or comfortable as he was bound and in chains. However, he used his situation as a means to minister. “…that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel…because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (2)
Do you use your situation to boldly proclaim the gospel message to encourage others to speak God’s word?
2. Paul’s was zealously stirred with ambition that propelled him forward. He abounded in love and was glad the Philippians church joined him in his work. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel…” (3) Also, Paul rejoiced because he knew God was working to mature them. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (4) Our trials are a suitable source to be made complete in Christ.
How does God want to use your trial to be made complete in Christ?
3. Paul’s circumstances didn’t dictate his mood. He was moved by passion to cultivate the spiritual progress of others. “…that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” (5) He was single focused!
What determine your mood?
4. Paul’s letter to the Philippians church challenged them to think about worthy conduct and to be unified by standing firm in their faith. “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel…I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” (6) They were contending for the faith together.
Are you fearful, or is anything holding you back from being a witness?
5. Both believing and suffering bring glory to God. Faith unto salvation exalts God. And the distinguishing mark of Christian’s is the experiences we share in conflicts, pain and life’s struggles. God is glorified is these! “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” (7)
Do you glorify God in your trials?
When we are reaching out to others by helping them, loving them, comforting them, or even simply sharing the gospel, it produces good things that ultimately bring glory to God. This is our joy and privilege! Can we be single focused no matter the circumstance?
Lord, help me to learn how to use my trials to serve others. Teach me to be willing and ready to give preference to another. Replace my selfishness with selflessness and help grow my faith. Amen
1. James 1:2-4
2. Philippians 1: 12, 14a
3. Philippians 1:3
4. Philippians 1:6
5. Philippians 1: 9-11
6. Philippians 1:27a28a
7. Philip 1:30
All Scripture is taken from the niv