God’s Gospel-Purpose for Us
But suffering? Really, Paul?
The apostle Paul was no stranger to suffering. And his Philippian audience knew it. Not only was Paul writing this letter while under house arrest in Rome, but earlier in their very town of Philippi—a wealthy Roman colony—he and Silas had been dragged into the marketplace, stripped, beaten, and locked in stocks (Acts 16:19-24).
So when he writes “it has been granted to you” (1:29) to also suffer, he knows what he’s talking about.
And he expected them to suffer well. For a reason. Us, too?
There is a way to live that shows God’s good news (i.e., gospel) really is good. Stand united; keep the faith; suffer with confidence. Then it will be clear that we’ve been delivered (1:28).
Do we flinch when danger shows up? Do we get scared at the possibilities of all the things that can go wrong in a life—even “little” things like a stomach bug or a car breaking down or an overscheduled week?
Here are three ways Paul helps us consider it a favor when we face enemies:
1. Don’t be a loner.
Stick with the team.
Can we live in agreement? Can we be so single-focused on Jesus that people will look at the church and think, “That’s amazing!”? Yes, we can!
We’re not designed to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps when troubles come, but rather to lock arms with like-minded believers (1:27).
2. Don’t let enemies intimidate you.
Place your confidence in Christ.
We reflect glory to God when we’re not intimidated by our problems (1:28). Not because we have all the solutions, but because the Lord has and will continue to rescue us. Not from troubles. But through troubles.
God was faithful to Paul in his conflicts. He’ll be faithful to us in ours.
3. Don’t despise suffering.
Consider it a blessing.
This one is hard. But when Paul said that sufferings had “been granted to you,” he used the Greek word charizomai, which literally means “to grant as a favor, gratuitously, in kindness” (1:29).
Paul counted it a privilege to suffer for Christ (3:8), not a curse to shrink back from. The value of knowing Christ is worth it all. We see that throughout Philippians.
So let’s ask the Lord—no, plead with the Lord—to give us more unity, courage, and gratitude so the world will look at us and say, “Wow, God!”
It’s God’s gospel-purpose for us.
How do you overcome fears and sufferings? What truths did you learn in Philippians 1:27-30 about God? About Paul? About your identity in Christ?
Please share what the Lord is revealing to you. It’s one way we can stand side by side for the faith of the gospel (1:27).