Amazing Things About Paul
There are many things about Paul that are amazing. One thing that has always impressed me is what he says while in prison (Philippians 1). He said that even though he was in prison, the gospel was still being preached. Although some were preaching out of selfish ambition, envy, and strife, the gospel was still being preached. Here he is in prison, some people are verbally tearing him up, and he still rejoices that the gospel is being preached.
His attitude and spirit are such a great example for us. People are trying to pick a fight with him, but he won’t fight. He doesn’t place the attention on himself. He points his attention towards the gospel. When we feel slighted by someone, how often do we turn the attention inward? It all becomes about “me.” Then, we develop a narrative in our minds that plays over and over again, and before we know it, we’re angry, despondent, and bitter. But not everything is about “me.” In fact, most things are not about “me.” Our thinking has to be changed.
As we change our thoughts, our narrative will change. We can construct a narrative that will build us up just as easy as one that can tear us down. If we are thinking about pure things, honest things, lovely things, noble things, true things, and just things, our internal story will be one of encouragement. Paul didn’t let the attitude and behavior of others influence his choice of how he was going to respond. We get to choose.
Further, rejoicing is not dependent on our circumstance or others. Here, Paul is in prison — his situation is miserable. Happiness is not expected. Yet, he rejoices.
Things don’t always have to go our way. Everyone doesn’t have to like us for us to rejoice. Paul was able to rejoice because of his intimate relationship with God. Others didn’t change that relationship. Others didn’t define him. God gave him the strength and courage to face the challenges he endured. His commitment to the Lord produced his joy. We must not wait until the stars align for us to be able to rejoice. People, things, and circumstances cannot take away our joy.
Just as Paul could’ve blamed his situation on the people around him, he could’ve complained that the gospel was the reason that he was in prison. He could’ve complained about how unfair he was being treated. Why didn’t he? He chose not to. That wasn’t the way he thought. He understood that everything that was happening wasn’t about him, but the Lord. Paul’s actions set an example for others. They encouraged others to speak the word boldly and without fear, instead of running away. How we respond affects others. They are watching.
We, like Paul, can learn what he learned. No matter our circumstances, or condition in life, we can be content. Everything doesn’t have to go our way for us to be content.
Paul said, “Whether little or much I can choose to be content and rejoice in the Lord. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
Think about it!