First post in a couple of months! School just started a couple e of weeks ago so I think it’s a good time to start this habit once again!
Philippians is again a letter that Paul writes to the followers in Philippi to give teaching and encouragement in their faith. The main focus of the opening words of this chapter is evangelism, persecution, living for Christ and spreading the gospel. It is evident that he has fully devoted his life to God and that his love for Christ is sincere, unlike those who are motivated by self-interest and do it to increase their reputation (as mentioned in verse 15-17).
Paul shares his experiences which serve as a strong testimony to reassure the faith of believers by describing the events following his imprisonment. He sets the standard for us to follow when we are faced with prosecution; we should stay grounded in our faith and be reminded that nothing else matters if our actions are sincere.
To adopt such a mindset, it is imperative to cultivate and maintain a close relationship and connection with the Lord – whether it is by spending quiet time waiting upon his presence, by prayer or private worship, we must make this into a daily habit so that the Holy Spirit can guide our every action.
Paul clearly demonstrates that he has achieved this because not only does he not regret and resent being thrown in prison for Jesus, but he is able to rejoice and be grateful.
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. — Philippians 1:12-13
This is not something that can be understood by worldly views or reasoning, which reminds me how we should set ourselves from the ways of the world and to rely on our God-guided instincts. The logic of this world is that being imprisoned, for any reason, is detrimental to reputation, a loss of freedom, a stripping away of a more comfortable lifestyle and most importantly, a punishment for sinful or wrong actions.
There are many things that we can learn from this:
1. Not only does Paul quickly come to terms with being imprisoned, but he can still rejoice for the cause of Jesus when he evangelises to the palace guards.
2. He is able to love the palace guards, the same people who keep Paul in chains as he spends effort to ensure their salvation
3. Paul maintains his priorities straight: putting God before everything, including himself. He sacrifices his own freedom and more importantly, his own comfort.
4. Unfortunate events such as Paul’s imprisonment can often be used by God for something greater. Paul’s suffering turned out to be a blessing to those in the prison as he leads the guards to Christ. Instead of praying to God to change our environment in times of hardship, we should instead ask God WHY we are put in the situation, HOW we should act and ask for him to CHANGE ourselves to let his will be done. Instead of doubting and resenting God for bad things that happen, Paul saw God’s will and obeyed. This can be applied in many situations – great and small – in our lives.