For to me to live is Christ.
Whatever the Apostle Paul did before and after his conversion, he did with all of his heart, soul and strength, whether it was persecuting Christians before his conversion or preaching the Gospel after his conversion.
Acts 9 records Saul’s conversion, who was then renamed Paul. It records that immediately he began to face rejection, opposition and persecution; not only by the lost, but by the young Church itself. As Jesus, His Saviour and Lord, Paul was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
He was beaten and imprisoned repeatedly for the Gospel.
He sorrowed constantly for His people, the Jews, who rejected Christ.
He sorrowed for his brethren, fellow preachers of the Gospel, who often turned against him, as recorded in II Corinthians 12:15, Philippians 1:14-16
and II Timothy 4:10-16. These preachers were envious of Paul’s spiritual power and success. They were attempting to compete with Paul, rather than recognizing themselves as his fellow-laborers.
His attitude towards all this garbage heaped upon him was, “So what?” “What then, notwithstanding”, he says in Philippians 1:18, “In every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached and I therein do rejoice and will continue to rejoice”
So it is for every faithful servant of God. We can rejoice, regardless of circumstances, whether we have bought a new home, or lost it, whether we have a job or have lost it, whether we are hospitalized or enjoying good health; whatever our circumstances; we can rejoice in Jesus, our Saviour and Life. As Romans 8:28 teaches, every circumstance, joyful or painful, is working together for our good.
Paul was confident of the supply of his needs through the provision of the indwelling Holy Spirit and that the supply of those needs would result in his salvation; that is, his sanctification, his full spiritual health. In other words, it was going to make him a stronger Christian.
Paul didn’t know what lay ahead for him; but he was confident that whether by life or death, that the Gospel he preached would succeed in doing its work. He was always aware that he was Christ’s chosen vessel. Anananias had shared that special message from God with him at the time of his conversion to Christ.
Persecution of Christ’s enemies and misunderstanding and meaness of fellow Christians did not deter him from preaching the Gospel.
Paul really didn’t care what happened to him. All that mattered to him was that the Gospel he once hated and fought against was furthered through his efforts. Though in chains in Rome, and though misunderstood and miserably treated by others, it really didn’t matter. Paul was thankful for every opportunity to preach the Gospel.
He was assured through his knowledge of God’s Word that whatever happened was going to work out for the spread of the Gospel and for his salvation from his imprisonment, whether by life or death. He knew the God of the Psalmist David who wrote repeatedly of how God delivered him.
He had witnessed Stephen’s stoning and death, and he never got over it. He had watched him die fearlessly and he knew God would give him that same faith and courage to face anything.
He didn’t care that there were mean-spirited, fellow preachers of the Gospel who hated and despised him and tried to make him look bad, even as they preached. He really didn’t care who got the credit for winning people to Christ. He was just glad the Gospel; was preached.
He was truly thankful for the faithful Christians who prayed for him and he was confident that through the provision of God, all his needs would be supplied.
In all his difficult circumstances and unfaithful “friends” who would gladly stab him in the back, no one could steal his joy that he had in knowing and serving Christ.
Does Christ and His Gospel consume you 24/7?
As John the Baptist’s motto in John 3:30 was “He must increase. I must decrease”; so his aim was “that Christ be magnified in his body.” His one purpose in life is summarized in Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is CHRIST. To die is gain” From the moment he was converted to Christ on the road to Damascus until the day he was executed, the Christ he once hated, was now the Christ he loved with a consuming passion. He was a one track man. Christ was everything to him. For Christ he was willing to suffer the loss of all things.
God doesn’t call every believer to be a preacher or a missionary, but He does call us all to that total dedication to Him, to use our strength and our resources to help spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, starting with your next door neighbor.
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