"Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the Gospel" Philippians 1:12.
When the Apostle Paul penned those words, he was under house arrest, chained to a Roman guard 24 hours a day...imprisoned because he would not stop sharing the Good News of God's love for a lost and dying world. Yet he didn't see that as an impediment to God's plan for him. Instead, he so trusted in God's loving sovereignty over every part of his life that he was confident that these circumstances were just what God had orchestrated to get the Gospel where He wanted it and when.
This verse challenges me to see my circumstances through the same lens Paul used. Whatever spot I'm in - prison or paradise - I want to live so that greater progress of the Gospel is achieved. If it's a tough spot, I don't want to resort to whining or throwing myself a big ole pity party or just trying to survive til the difficulty passes. If it's a good spot, I don't want to waste it on my own consumption, falsely believing that the blessings are just mine to enjoy. I want to be like Paul - whatever circumstances God puts me in, I want them to turn out for greater progress of the Gospel. I don't want that progress to be compromised because I failed to let God use my circumstances for His glory.
One final note of encouragement. God gives us a peek at some of the progress He produced. Take a look at the next to last verse in the book of Philippians. Chapter 4, verse 22. Remember those Roman guards that were chained to Paul? Caesar's praetorian soldiers, one after another, hours at a time, exposed to the Gospel in uncomfortable proximity. Paul closes with a hint that at least some of them yielded to the Good News : "All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household".
My prayer for you and for me today is that all around us would see our circumstances turn out for greater progress of the Gospel. Amen
This post originally appeared on February 27, 2013