Today my guest blogger is Stacie Gibson. Stacie is a certified biblical counselor with ACBC. She and her husband serve together at Grace Baptist Church in Dansville, NY.
“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.” Philippians 1:12-13
Trials and suffering happen and there is no way around them in this sin cursed world. Romans 8 says “the creation waits with eager longing.” It waits because it is subject to frustration, decay, and pain. In the meantime, we have to endure frustration, pain and trials of various kinds on a regular basis so that we may become free from its bondage and look to God as a Father that we will one day see.
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to suffering and if you read enough of his writing, it won’t take you long to see he endured much. Paul was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and abandoned by people he loved.
The book of Philippians was written while Paul was awaiting a trial for his faith in Christ. Paul was in jail, but when you read through the book of Philippians it’s so hard to believe he was imprisoned because his writings are filled with such joy and contentment. The man was nearing death and he says “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (4:11) The situation he was in seemed very bleak, but Paul knew he was in chains for a purpose: for the advancement of the Gospel.
Looking at these two verses closer, the context or story behind them gives helpful meaning for us today: “What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” What happened to Paul? Paul set out on a missionary journey to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, so they may know the unsearchable riches of Christ. After preaching the Gospel in Crete, Syria, Greece, and modern day Turkey, he made plans to travel to Spain. After a stop in Jerusalem, Paul was arrested, placed in chains, and was sent to Rome to await trial. From what I have read by other commentators, he was even neglected by some pastors while in Rome which meant the congregations forgot about him too.
Thankfully, he had friends like Timothy and Onesimus that still cared for him and were not ashamed of his chains. (2 Tim. 1:16-17). Paul knew that God had a purpose and plan and that his arrest and imprisonment did not put a stop to his mission. “So that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. “ Not only was Paul in prison, he was also chained and guarded by a Roman soldier round the clock. This meant more opportunities to preach the gospel, which worked because Christ became known through the whole praetorium!
What practical application can we take from this passage? Sister, are you making the most of every opportunity in your circumstances or do you view the circumstances as a burden? When all the focus goes on getting out of the problem and not stopping to see that God is at work “in” the problem, we miss something very important. Paul could have questioned God’s goodness and grumbled, but he didn’t. He knew that God sovereignly placed him in prison and he was resting in Christ alone. Heat (a trial) will come, but our response is what is going to grow our faith and move us in a direction towards Christlikeness. When we see that God is bigger than our circumstances, we can have the joy, peace, and contentment that Paul had.
Also, whether we like it or not, we are chained to people each day! Our spouse, children, boss, co-workers, and friends to name a few. My husband and kids are not jail guards, but sometimes my relationship with them may get messy and seem like a jail sentence with no way out. This causes me to sin in my thinking, especially when I forget that the messiness will produce steadfastness in me and give me the opportunity to serve others. I don’t know about you, but I have to be constantly reminded that trials are not all about me, but an opportunity to depend on Christ and grow to be more like Him.
We need to make the most of every opportunity and not waste our trials, but use them to take the Gospel forward. When you give Him the honor, praise and glory that is due, the people that you are chained to will see the hope you have in Christ and long for the same joy you have. I hope that I can get to a point in my Christian life where I can say “What has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel.”
Stacie Gibson is a wife to her husband Matt of almost 20 years. Together they have four children, including a daughter with special needs who is blessing to all who meet her. and are involved with the church’s counseling ministry. Stacie is a keeper of her home and loves to read, share God’s word with women, and spend time with her family.
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