While we often think that suffering will serve as a blockade towards spiritual growth, it is often the vehicle. Realize that God may want to use that which you want to remove.
12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
The Surprising Nature of Suffering (1:12-13)
- Paul experienced numerous physical and emotional difficulties (1:12; cf. 2 Cor. 11).
- Our suffering often places us with unexpected opportunities among unsuspected people (1:13).
- Use your hardships as a platform for ministry rather than a blockade.
The Surprising Reactions to Suffering (1:14-18)
- Your perseverance can give courage to others who are facing similar hardships (1:14).
- Trials often reveal if those around us are supportive servants or bitter believers (1:15-17).
- Supportive Servants are those who supplement ministry when others are immobilized (1:16).
- Bitter Believers are those whose jealousy leads them to take advantage of another’s suffering (1:17).
- Stop filtering every trouble by how it affects you but rather how it promotes the gospel (1:18).
God can renew what you want to remove.
- What suffering do you wish that God would remove from your life right now?
- If your circumstances don’t change, how could you see God using them for spreading the gospel?