Read about Paul's attitude toward following Jesus in the last post here. This week, let’s take a further look at the man who died by himself outside of Rome but who changed the world with the message of Christ’s redeeming love—the Apostle Paul.
When we look at Paul’s thought process, we see his attitude as he went through every imaginable circumstance. The following verses give us his perspective on going through the good times and the bad times.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” –Philippians 4:12-13
So what were some of the situations he found himself in as a result of going public with Jesus and the message of the cross? Paul gives us at least a few things in 2 Corinthians.
“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” -2 Corinthians 11:24-28
What a list of trials! Let’s review his attitude as he identified with the Jesus of Scripture and how the world treated him.
- He knew God loved him.
- God’s love demands that He seek the highest good for those He loves.
- God controls all things.
- Not all things are good, but God would work all things for our good.
- God’s purpose in the good and bad was Paul’s transformation into the likeness and image of Christ.
- In faith, Paul would thank the Father—acknowledging the above truths and the reality that God’s ways are always best, no matter the circumstances.
Paul ran his race to win the prize. One of my greatest fears is that I will consider something more important to succeed in than I do in running the race to win the prize.
Brothers and sisters, no matter what your circumstances—good or bad—these attitudes will allow you to pass through them with peace and contentment in God’s purposes. His highest good for you is abundant life, and in that, His great glory will be reflected. There are no accidents in the Christian life.
No wonder Paul told us to follow him as he followed Christ. God's grace knows no end.
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John's travels for ministry behind the Iron Curtain led him to found East-West Ministries International in 1993. John and his wife, Susie, live in Dallas, Texas and have a grown daughter and two grandchildren.