“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (1)
Hardships are the means in which God matures our faith. Thus, they conform us into the image of Christ. God uses them as an instrument to chisel away our self ambition, pride and selfishness. By maturing our character our Lord knows we can serve others more effectively and distribute the good news of the Gospel. There is purpose in all He does, as He uses even those difficult times for our good.
The Apostle Paul was an ambassador for Christ in propagating the gospel message. Although he was living through the tensions of life, and shut up in prison it did not stop him from dispersing God’s word. He used his circumstances to position himself in a place that would fulfill his call in life…solely to love and care for people. People matter!
Paul was continually filled with praise and joy. What made Paul content in those circumstances? How could he worship God in a dirty, cold prison?
Here are five principles that resonate with me on why Paul used his circumstances for God’s glory.
1. Paul’s suffering was visible to everyone. To his advantage He proclaim Christ which brought him great joy. He also was qualified; life wasn’t easy or comfortable as he was bound and in chains. However, he used his situation as a means to minister to hurting people. “…what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel…because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (2)
Are you fearful, or is anything holding you back from being a witness?
2. Paul’s was zealously stirred with ambition that propelled him forward. He abounded in love and was glad the Philippians church joined him in his work. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel…” (3) Also, Paul rejoiced because he knew God was working to mature these brethren. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (4) Our trials are a suitable source to be made complete in Christ.
How does God want to use your trial to be made complete in Christ?
3. Paul’s circumstances didn’t dictate his mood. He was moved by passion to cultivate the spiritual progress of others. “…that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” (5) He was single focused!
What determine your mood?
4. Paul’s letter to the Philippians church challenged them to think about their own personal conduct. Was their conduct worthy of Christ? He also admonished them to be unified by standing firm in their faith. “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (6) Paul encouraged these beloved to be in unity with one spirit.
Is your conduct worthy of our Lord Jesus Christ? Are you standing in unity with the body of Christ?
5. Both believing and suffering bring glory to God. Faith unto salvation which exalts God. And the distinguishing mark of a Christian is the experiences we share in conflicts, pain and life’s struggles with each other. God is glorified is these! “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” (7)
Do you glorify God in your trials?
When we are reaching out to others by helping them, loving them, comforting them, or even simply sharing the gospel, it produces good things that ultimately bring glory to God. This is our joy and privilege! Can we be single focused no matter the circumstance?
Lord, help me to learn how to use my trials to serve others. Teach me to be willing and ready to give preference to another. Replace my selfishness with selflessness and help grow my faith. Amen
1. James 1:2-4
2. Philippians 1: 12, 14a
3. Philippians 1:3
4. Philippians 1:6
5. Philippians 1: 9-11
6. Philippians 1:27a28a
7. Philip 1:30
All Scripture is taken from the niv