There are so many posters and slogans and books about having a positive outlook and that it is your choice… it can all become nothing more than noise. The phrases become cliche and so we begin to ignore them. But just because something becomes cliche does not mean its truth has lost value. It is completely true that it is ALWAYS a choice. That choice becomes easier when your vision is bigger than you… bigger than your circumstances.
Today I have started to re-read one of my favorite books of the Bible, Philippians. It begins with Paul in prison and writing a letter to “the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.” (Phil 1:1) Those ‘saints’ are the people of the church. Not a select few, not just the leaders… but all the believers that made up the entire congregation of the church at Philippi. And through God’s amazing sovereignty, this same letter is included in the Bible meaning that the audience of that letter includes all the saints across time. That’s a pretty big audience, and his message is applicable to each and every one of us.
Remember, his circumstances are that he’s in jail for his faith. Many of the local Christians have now ignored him to avoid the same fate. He’s isolated and he’s been poorly treated. He was arrested and imprisoned on false pretenses. He was on a mission to lauch churches all over West Asia and the Roman Empire and now those plans have been interrupted. He has more than enough reason to be upset, frustrated and down right negative. But he’s not.
Why not? Because his vision of the bigger picture is much greater than himself or his circumstances. Paul knows that the ONLY reason he is alive is to advance the gospel. That is his sole purpose on this earth. And the beautiful irony is that those people set on stopping him, only empowered him.
He tells the saints of Philippi, “I 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)
You see, while being in prison, he was on 24 hour watch. Not just a guard sitting in the other room. These guards actually took turns being shackled to Paul for hours at a time. This meant Paul had a rotating captive audience, one at a time, without distractions. There is no possible way Paul would have had these private audiences with the Imperial Guard had he not been arrested.
His negative circumstances, thrust upon him by an enemy with evil intent, only served to advance the gospel. But it ONLY worked that way because Paul remained single minded about his real mission. Although his earthly mission was to plant more churches, the real mission was to advance the gospel. God knew that he had stated enough churches that those disciples were now launching other churches… others could continue that mission. But only Paul could handle the prison ministry with the Imperial Guard.
In the end, Paul could have repeated Joseph’s words to those who had him arrested. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Gen 50:20) It is this kingdom focused vision that enables us to CHOOSE positive even in the most negative circumstances.
I pray that you appreciate my blogs. They are my way of journaling as I read His word. If you do like them, please be sure to click the Follow Hisfamily Ministries button left of this post AND to spread the word. Share these posts with others and perhaps they will be blessed too.