want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (Phil 1:12-14)
What are the purposes of my circumstances? Why do I live now, in this time, in this place, with this status?
My initial response would probably be something of the Lord’s working. He is sovereign and determines the boundaries of our lives. He chooses where we are born, who we are born to, and what genes and cultural influences mix in us to mold our inclinations.
That is a good answer for sure! But if I am honest with myself I live as if there are other reasons. There is the pride that makes me want others to look upon me with laud and honor. So I am where I am to make myself into the greatest bible teacher and servant the world has yet to see. There is my selfishness that is only concerned with my well being. My friends and gifts are all around me for the purpose of making my life happier and more satisfying. But if they ever cease performing this task I have little use for them. And both of these evil characteristics flow from the idolatry of “me”. My fame, my well being, is the doctrine of this religion that wars against the worship of the one true living God.
But what thanks flows from my heart to Him who has mercifully and graciously took up His sovereign sword of salvation against this religion! And on the cross He struck the death blow to this religion! And now I war against the last futile attempts by the religion of “me” to rule me. But while its defeat is sure, it is putting up one monstrous fight! I still desire fame and well being.
But I am thankful that there is an in break of a new kingdom and the desires it brings are beautiful and satisfying. And I saw these desire in the text quoted above. Here was the Apostle Paul in the midst of an unpleasurable circumstance. Imprisoned for the sake of the gospel, he was living in a place where the old religion of “me” would cringe to be. But because of a new king, a new One to worship Paul’s desires reflect a heavenly existence.
First Paul is enthralled by the advance of the gospel by His circumstances. There was no worship of himself, all he saw was the fame of his new King spreading, and it pleased him! So much that he was glad to remain in this situation as long as the fame of King Jesus grew.
And then second, Paul’s heart was now for other people. Why? Because the one he now worshiped displayed His unparalleled mercy to people. God is involved with the salvation of particular persons. And So Paul’s concern is to see people mature in Christ. Even though His selfishness screams injustice at his circumstance, his heart jumps at the sight of people becoming bold of the Savor.
Oh, may I be like Paul who hates his old religious ways and joyfully worship my new King and so be conformed to His ways. So that, in whatever circumstance I am placed, my desires would reflect His desires to see His named glorified in the salvation of sinners and my heart satisfied in such glorification.