Who is Your Prisoner? Growing a New Attitude
“12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[c] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 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.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 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.[d] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” Philippians 1:12-26 NIV
Who is your prisoner?
When Philippians was written, we know that Paul wrote it from a prison in Rome, but here is something interesting to think about. Paul had a different attitude. Paul never considered himself to be a prisoner of Rome. According to verse 13, Paul considered himself, not a prisoner of Rome, but a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Paul did not view the soldiers that were chained to his wrists as his captors and guards. To Paul, they were simply souls for whom Jesus Christ died, and people to whom Jesus Christ needed to be introduced. To Paul, the soldiers that were chained to him did not have the purpose of keeping him from escaping. To Paul, because the soldiers were chained to him, they had no chance of escaping the Gospel. There was no way that they could be chained to him and NOT know Jesus Christ. This makes me wonder… who is the prisoner here really?
I often feel like I am a prisoner of my job. I feel like a prisoner of the organization I work for. Maybe God wants me to know that I am not a prisoner of my circumstances. I need to understand that I am instead a prisoner of Christ. If I am a prisoner of Christ, then there should be no way that the people around me could NOT hear about and know Christ and the Gospel. Maybe I need to grow a new attitude. Maybe God did not make me to be a prisoner of my circumstances, but He put me here, so that my circumstances could be His prisoner too!
What do you consider yourself a prisoner of? Maybe you need to learn, like I do, to change your attitude. Could it be that you are not a prisoner of your job, your illness, your lack of income, and of your past? Could it be that you are called to be a prisoner of Christ? Could it be that Jesus doesn’t want you to be a victim, but a victor? Could it be that if you are a prisoner of Jesus, that He wants you to focus less on explaining the detail of your pain and suffering, and focus more on bringing glory and honor to Jesus Christ?
Could it be that if you are a prisoner of Jesus Christ, that He wants you to be an over-comer rather than an over-complainer? While most people would go into detail to explain all of the pain and suffering they endured, Paul does not. His desire to bring honor to Jesus Christ and to advance the Gospel superseded his desire to complain and grumble about his problems.
Because Paul was a prisoner of Christ, he lived his life to “advance the gospel” rather than to advance himself. Paul’s message was never about advancing himself or his own agenda or ministry. He wanted only to advance the Gospel.
How are you redeeming your situations?
Lord Jesus my focus is far too often on advancing myself rather than Your Gospel. Lead me to re-focus my heart, my attitude, and my actions to live a life that advances Your message… not mine. Amen.