“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually 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. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” -Phillipians 1:12-14
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospelwithout being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” v. 27-30
I’m struck with how encouraging Paul’s words must have been to the Phillipians in the truest sense of the word. How they must have actually given them courage.
Paul was in prison and was suffering in a similar way to the Phillipians (“since you are still going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now that I still have.” v. 30)
He shares prior to that that because of his chains “most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” (v.14)
Bottom line: their lives were at risk for believing and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul shares his courage in his own chains. He gently reminds them that to die is gain. That it is by far better than continuing to live on this earth. He empathizes deeply with their struggles.
He recognizes the fact that trouble may come, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
He urges them to not be afraid of those who oppose them. He reminds them that it was given to them to suffer for Christ.
What a deep connection Paul had with them in Spirit because of their mutual suffering and the opposition that they faced. And what an example he gave them of courage and joy. How it must have spurred them on!
A brother recently shared in our small group about how it was believed for years that the 4 minute mile was impossible…that it could not be done. Then in 1954, someone broke it and after that another and another and another, until now it is common place.
There must have been something about seeing it done.
I believe encouragement is powerful and a little goes a long, long way.
Because underneath my fear is often unbelief.
If I am not believing, then I am not receiving His power, His grace, His LIFE that He has given and gives so freely.
And is there anything more encouraging than another person who has been there, done that, and been victorious?
Thank God for Paul, for his testimony along with many others after him who suffered persecution for their faith and did not faint, but were steadfast.
They are an encouragement to us.
We’ve seen it done.