…whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.
Our earthly circumstances do not tell the whole story about us. As believers in Christ we have an exalted position in Him – seated with Him in the heavenly realms! And this is all by the amazing and sustaining grace of God.
Across our world today are believers in Christ who face persecution and rejection because of their faith. Some are impoverished due to the prejudice against believers in Christ where they live – just as in biblical times. The words of Paul above were written from prison to the believers in Philippi – another event when resulted in him and Silas being imprisoned for a brief time, as well as beaten.
I stood yesterday at the probable site in Philippi where Paul and Silas were imprisoned. It was an ordinary looking place in its day – a bit stern and foreboding as all jails tend to be, but ordinary enough for the purpose it was to serve. But in the dark hours of the night, God spoke, through an earthquake and through a proclamation of the gospel and specifically to a jailer’s heart. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” was the unforgettable question of the Philippian jailer guarding Paul and Silas. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” was the answer (Acts 16:30-31). A heart turned away from the world, in sorrow for sins, and then turned toward God through Christ, in acceptance and faith, is only possible through the work of the Spirit of God. But just as light does not care how deep the darkness is when it shines, so God’s Spirit does not care how sinful the human soul is which He shines the light of His love and the transforming power of His grace.
And often vast disparities exist on this earth between believers’ conditions from one another and often from the world, but these do not negate, nor diminish, and should not do so in our minds, the grace and power of God operative in their lives through the gospel and by His Spirit. Those believers who are most despised in this world are our brothers and sisters and we share with them the grace of God.
We should not judge our spiritual position based on our physical circumstances. We can lean upon the word of God that gives promises of God’s redemption, that He will fulfill all that He has promised to do for us. As Paul wrote in the preceding verse, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). This should result in a new attitude about our lives and our future. God is at work within us and will continue His work till completion. It should also help us to see our brother and sister in Christ in the proper light: redeemed, precious to God, and those with whom we share the limitless grace of God.
Lord, let us define ourselves based on the promises of Your word, not on our circumstances in this world. Amen.