If you have a pulse, you have probably asked the age-old question, “Why is this happening to me?” The Bible is full of stories of people who were mistreated for what seemed to be no good reason. We can look at the persecution of Jesus, King David, or Job as clear examples of God-fearing men who didn’t deserve the abuse that came their way. Another example that we will look at today is the Apostle Paul. In the first chapter of Philippians, Paul gives us three reasons he found while he was unfairly imprisoned in a Roman jail.
Philippians 1:12 - Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.
Things to think about:
· “It’s not fair!” is one of the most common complaints humans utter. There is a sense of justice that we all have and when it is violated, we demand to know why this is happening.
o Are going through a time now where this is the recurring thought going through your mind?
o If not now, when has this been the case for you?
· Of course, we all know Romans 8:28 that all things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
o But sometimes we really want to know what that purpose is!
o Philippians 1 offers us three potential answers
To Advance the Gospel
· In our verse, Paul says that what is happening to him is serving to advance the gospel
· He goes on to say in verses 13 and 14, “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.”
o Non-believers could plainly see that Paul was a man of conviction, willing to be in chains for his beliefs.
o Moreover, believers grew in their confidence to proclaim the gospel
o Why is it so compelling to see a clear-cut model of conviction?
o Have you seen examples of this in your own life where someone was willing to endure “unfairness” for the sake of the gospel?
One’s Own Deliverance
· The second major benefit Paul offers is found in verse 19 – “for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”
o Paul said that his deliverance through this time was fortified by the prayers of others and the Holy Spirit.
o We cannot tough it out on our own. We need the prayer support of others, coupled with the Spirit to make it through.
o How have you seen this play out in your own life?
The Benefit of Others
· Lastly, Paul concludes in verse 25 with, “I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith”
o In this section, Paul was actually talking about whether it would just be better for him to die so he could be in the presence of the Lord (his preference) or to remain and help the young church grow (his duty).
o As a pillar of faith, of course Paul opted to remain for the sake of others.
o Your perseverance in suffering can propel others along in their own journey and give them joy in the faith. That is a remarkable outcome to a circumstance that on its surface may seem pointless.
o How have you been inspired by the faithfulness of another, especially when they have been in trying circumstances?
· Suffering doesn’t have to be wasted time. Clearly, God can be actively at work to bring new believers into the kingdom, to minister to you personally, and to grow others in the faith.
o The trick is to respond as Paul did and not focus on the circumstances (or even the outcome) but on the spiritual process taking place around and in you, to God’s glory.