No Chains for God’s Gospel

 

What would you expect to hear from an aging pastor stuck in prison, chained to a group of godless guards, unable to be with the people he loves so much? Discouragement? Defeat? Frustration? Bitterness? Maybe … unless you shared the mind of Christ like the apostle Paul. Instead, his heart stirred up with joy that—though he sits confined to a dark, Roman jail—the Good News of Christ’s love burns in his heart and is actually producing amazing results, not only among his captors, but also in the lives of other Christians. Paul stays upbeat about his circumstances. Why? Because he knows the power of the gospel will have its joyful end in the lives of all who hear and believe (1:12-18).
 
He also believes the Philippians will be encouraged to live more courageously, too. Paul uses his own struggle with whether he wants to stay alive long enough to encourage the Philippians with truth or to go to be with Christ, to challenge them to commit to deepening their faith. Growing our faith is always the goal of Jesus working in our lives—whether through times of joyful freedom or those more painful times of uncertainty and adversity. Either way, keeping our focus on Jesus is what matters most.
 
So he coaches them in how to keep living for Jesus when the world around them ignores His grace—he wants them to live above the mess and, instead, show the attitude of Jesus by staying one in spirit and with joy being willing to suffer for His name (1:19-30).
 
With equal passion for the gospel, Paul urges his friends at Philippi to stay strong in the face of persecution and to adopt a selfless attitude toward meeting the needs of others.
 
Others! Such an important word in the body of Christ.
 
For all of us as Christians, to be like Christ means to have His attitude—to think like He thinks. To not push your desires or needs first. But rather, to humble yourself and serve those around you who have significant needs. Ultimately, to spend your life sharing Jesus—whose gift of salvation is their most critical need. Is that what you want to do with your life each day? Ask God to help you live selflessly, serve others, and focus on what they need. To think of others above yourself is to let the mind and heart of Jesus Christ be the pattern of your life. ~J. Vernon McGee

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