Contagious Courageous Suffering
What is happening to you right now that is serving to advance the gospel?
Published August 5th, 2017; Updated August 5th, 2017
Main point summary
We must never forget that God uses our courageous suffering for the advancement of his gospel and the emboldening of fellow Christians.
" I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel... " Don't you desperately want to say this about your life? I know I do! I want everything about my life to serve to advance the gospel! The difficulty in all of this is that I tend to forget that often times gospel advancement is costly and requires suffering. I like my own comfortable ideas and plans of how I can spread the gospel. If I was completely honest, suffering is rarely a part of my gospel advancement plan. I often forget that this is the norm for the follower of Jesus (Mark 8:34-38). In fact, no matter how carefully I plan my life, sooner or later I'm confronted with the reality that God's plans always take precedence over mine. Isn't this what we see this in the text? God had a plan for Paul's life that wasn't necessarily part of Paul's plan. Take a look at five easily overlooked words of Paul. " I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel . What did happen to Paul? Paul was put in prison. Things that happen to all of us are not usually part of our plans. You can make plans to go on a family vacation, but what happens to you on the way there you have little to no control over. Paul shows us that our response to God's plan for our lives (what has happened to me) has a direct correlation to gospel advancement and bringing encouragement to other believers. Paul's focus is not having others pity his current situation in prison. He wants other believers to focus on how God is using his current situation to advance the gospel. How tempting would it be for Paul to advance his own agenda of pity and suffering? Often times I find that my reactions to the "what has happened to me" situations in my life are more about me and less about what God is doing through my suffering. I often find myself wanting to have a pity party as opposed to a gospel advancement party. I do want to be sensitive and not be flippant in regards suffering. Sometimes suffering comes out of nowhere and hits us like a Mack truck. This isn't always easy to recover from. But know that even in our most difficult and darkest hours God is with us and has a gospel vision for our lives and the lives of those we would come into contact with. What Paul is clearly communicating is that all of our suffering is ultimately for Christ. We can take comfort knowing that our suffering is not in vain as we look to the cross. All of the suffering that Jesus experienced, especially on the cross, was not arbitrary. All of his suffering had a very specific purpose just like all of our suffering. Jesus' suffering served to advance the gospel and made it possible for us to be reconciled to God. We have been called in our cross bearing and self-denying suffering to courageously follow Jesus in his ministry of reconciliation - a ministry which results in the advancement of his gospel and the emboldening of his saints ( 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ) . It may not be easy, but it will be worth it!
I want you to know, brothers, 1
Fellow bothers and sisters in Christ, I need you to know something,
that what has happened to me has really x served to advance the gospel,
that is my imprisonment is serving to push forward the gospel
so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard 1 and y to all the rest that z my imprisonment is for Christ.
in other words everyone working in this prison and incarcerated in this prison knows that my incarceration is for the fame and glory of Jesus Christ.
And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment,
And many fellow Christians are finding their courage IN CHRIST to face their suffering by looking at my suffering
are much more bold a to speak the word 1 without fear.
further resulting in more courage to preach the gospel message without worry and anxiety of what might happen to them.