Thursday, March 15, 2018
Philippians 1:12-14 12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
In one of the Apostle Paul’s most quoted statements, given to Him by the Holy Spirit, he says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Paul wrote that statement prior to traveling to Rome, where he was eventually imprisoned for his faith in Christ. It was during that incarceration that he had an opportunity to apply the truth of what he had written to his own life. He wrote to the people of Philippi to tell them that even in his imprisonment God was accomplishing His purpose of advancing the gospel.
Paul had an incredible perspective on life. He found the positive in the most negative of situations. We would certainly classify Paul as an optimist. But Paul did much more than just attempt to find the good in a bad circumstance so that he could feel better about what was happening. He went into the circumstance with the expectation of seeing God do something good. He didn’t base his attitude on hindsight, but on foresight motivated by faith.
There are two key elements to having this kind of perspective on life:
- love for God above all else, and
- living for God’s purpose and not our own.
Our attitude toward life and its circumstances is dictated by whom we love and the outcomes we expect. We have two main choices when it comes to whom we will love. We will either love self, or we will love God. You may be tempted to add a third choice of “others”, but think about it. We either love others because of our love for God or we love others because of our love for self. When we love others out of our love for God, we do what is best for them. When we love others out of our love for self, we do what brings us a desired result. So essentially there are only two choices for whom we love – God or self.
Our love choice then dictates the purpose for all that we do and our attitude towards the outcomes of what we have done. If we love God above self, then we want His purpose accomplished and our attitude toward every situation is determined by that outcome. If we love self more than God, then our outcomes are most important and our attitude is determined by whether or not we get it.
Paul’s secret to joy during terrible circumstances was that he loved God more than self, and he lived his life seeking God’s outcomes so that God’s purpose was fulfilled. My problem is that I choose to live far too many days with a bad attitude because I love myself most and as a result I want my outcomes.
Paul lived in prison with a good attitude because God’s outcomes were being realized. We have the same opportunity to experience life to that level of joy and satisfaction. We have been called to salvation to accomplish God’s purpose. We can enter every situation of life with an expectation that God is at work to advance the gospel and accomplish His purpose. What a difference that will make in our attitudes. Then we will be able to say with Paul, “because of this I rejoice.”