For Another’s Benefit

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It’s easy to bemoan the less-than-pleasant things that happen in our lives. It’s even easier to fret and complain about the truly bad things that occur. We wonder what God is doing in the midst of our pain, and sometimes question the reasons why He allows such things to happen. Oddly enough, we don’t seem to question the good things that come our way. For some reason, we tend to treat them as “expected” or “earned.” Rarely do we stop and ponder why God would allow them in our lives.

Yet Paul had a shared perspective on both the good and the bad that he encountered. He his second letter to the church of Corinth he wrote the following:

“If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:6)

In other words, Paul didn’t see the things happening in his life as mainly being about him, but about his ministry for the Gospel. Whether it was good or bad that he had to contend with he was content in the circumstance knowing that God was using it to accomplish something in the lives of others. Paul didn’t see his life as being worth much except for how God used it to bring others into His Kingdom (Acts 20:24). That’s why he could say without equivocation “to live is Christ, but to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

I wonder how our perspective on our lives would change if we evaluated the circumstances we encountered with the same barometer that Paul used. What if we saw the things that we had to deal with not as inconveniences or blessings to us, but as a means of ministering to other people. Maybe then, like Paul, we would be able to say that we “have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” (Phil. 4:11, NIV).

What do you think?