Paul was in prison for the sake of the gospel . . . again.
His enemies, the enemies of Christ, must have really hated Paul.
When they threw him in jail, he kept preaching the gospel and his jail-mates and even prison guards came to know the Lord!
When they threatened his life, he said things like, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. “ Philippians 1:21
When he wrote to the church in Philippi, he told them that his imprisonment had turned out for the greater progress of the gospel and that others were trusting in the Lord and speaking the gospel with more boldness and without fear…as a result of his imprisonment.
Isn’t that opposite from what we would think? Instead of hearing of Paul in prison and hiding in their homes, they were more strengthened and bold to share the gospel also. Instead of Paul hiding or being more discreet in sharing about his life in Christ, when his life was threatened Paul preached on. He lived with the reality that his home was in heaven and so to take his life was better for him because he would be with Christ. To live here on earth was better for them because he would press on in making disciples without fear.
It’s in this context that we find a favorite verse in the American church…. “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Paul says that he has learned to be content in every situation…prison or not, having abundance or suffering need, prosperity or poverty…BECAUSE Christ is the one who strengthens him.
That really makes this verse live in a whole new way, doesn’t it?
What situation are you in that is a consistent platform for discontentment and complaining? Meditating on all that you wish you had but don’t…whether that is stuff, things, people, or circumstances?
Currently I am not facing imprisonment or death for the sake of the gospel but what deaths to myself do I need to be dying to daily so that Christ may be manifest in me?
Sometimes it’s the little things that get us…the year and a half I had two children under two with only a bathroom sink in which to hand wash all of my dishes, the season of longing for a husband, a child, a house, a different home, a new car (one that worked), internet that didn’t cut out every couple of minutes, etc…
Oftentimes those small things (in light of eternity) can be a platform for complaining and discontentment.
Instead they can be situations in which Christ forms His character in our lives while no one else is watching. Situations where we learn, like Paul, the secret of contentment.
1 Timothy 6:6 says that godliness when accompanied by contentment is great gain.
What area of your life do you need Him to grow your heart to a place of contentment? You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!
I want to please the Lord in the places of my heart where no one sees but Him. I want Him to grow me and for my attitudes to reflect His work and grace in my heart. I want to learn the secret of contentment and to say, with Paul, that “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” so that in the little mundane things of life or in the big situations of life, I may walk in the grace that is lavished upon us in Jesus and be a sweet aroma of His grace.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain and I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.