Advancing the Gospel
“…what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
Philippians 1:12 (ESVUK)
It would have been easy for Paul to regard himself as a victim of life.
He explained once that he had received “countless beatings” and was “often near death”. “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one”, he wrote. “Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger of rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).
Now, to crown things off, he is in a Roman prison awaiting trial and eventually execution as he writes to the Philippians. No one could blame him if he had a victim state of mind. And yet he didn’t. What mattered to him was to change any circumstance into an opportunity for the gospel of Jesus.
We live in a dysfunctional world where so many things go wrong not just on a global scale but also on a personal level. Bad things happen to good people. It’s not easy being a person of faith. Life can be a struggle financially, emotionally, spiritually, health-wise and in all sorts of ways. It is understandable if sometimes we dwell on our victimhood instead of celebrating life.
For Paul, however, victimhood was not going to hold him down. His was a calling to something more excellent and more joyful. His desire, despite all the many setbacks, remained rooted in the glory of the gospel.
Perhaps we can take a lesson from Paul’s book, and, with the help of the Spirit, seek always to rise above our problems and to advance the gospel.
Father, help me please, through your Spirit, not to remain in victimhood but rather to turn my setbacks in life into opportunities to advance the gospel. In Jesus’ name.
Study by James Henderson
About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.