Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. – Philippians 1:12-13
Life rarely goes as we have planned it. No matter how prescient we may be, or how fortuitous our lot, still things happen that we did not anticipate. When these unexpected road bumps are good, we rarely complain. When they are bad, our cries of foul play are readily heard.
Paul seemed to have a different view. As indicated above, he spent some time in prison. In fact, Paul was in prison on numerous occasions, not for some treacherous deed but for saying things that the religious and political leaders rather he didn’t. Many of the letters that we have from Paul were written while he was in jail. It’s not too far a stretch to say that Paul may have had the very first prison ministry – and that his stocks and chains were his primary pulpit.
Paul’s concern, however, wasn’t for the injustice of his imprisonment. When he viewed his time in jail, he was able to count it as a success for it “served to advance the Gospel.” All that happened to Paul was put through this filter. And it wasn’t just believers that noticed. As he states in the passage above “it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” Even those that did not serve God, knew it was for His sake that Paul suffered, and by this testimony Christ was revealed.
Let the same be true in our lives. Let others look at us and say everything that happens to them, every hurdle, every obstacle, every slight, every perceived injury, is for the sake of Christ. And through this testimony, through lives sacrificed to the One who sacrificed His life, may the Gospel be made known, that they too may give it all, for Christ’s sake.