Check Up From the Neck Up
Day 19: January 22nd, 2021
COMMITMENT… BECAUSE WE’RE BLESSED
Prisons today are five-star resorts compared to those in which Paul suffered. He enjoyed no heated cell with private toilet and sink. There was no mattress for sleeping, no TV room for relaxing, no well-stocked library for reading and study. There was only the dark encasement of roughly hewn stones, filled with putrid odors and the pungent reminders of human depravity. Perhaps worst of all were the chains, their rusty coarseness scraping his skin raw, constantly tugging at him.
As if imprisonment were not painful enough, Paul had to endure something worse: the stinging criticism of those who called themselves his Christian brothers. They dared to attack God’s apostle even while he was held captive.
Stop and imagine yourself in Paul’s situation. Feel the weight of the chains on raw skin. Taste the nauseating slop that was his daily food. Listen to those dreadful sounds of suffering that filled his ears day and night. Look into the menacing eyes of the Roman prison guards. You are there, you are suffering. You are chained. You are Paul the apostle.
Now, what’s your attitude? What fills your heart through the weary hours?
Here’s what Paul wrote to his friends in Philippi: “Now I want you to know, bothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (Philippians1:12-14, (NIV)
What an attitude! Rather than being inflamed with furious self-pity, Paul is encouraged by the positive impact of his negative condition. In spite of the severity, he is joyful.
What a lesson Paul teaches us! We have troubles and trials, sure; but what is our attitude, and what is our commitment? Paul was joyful and he kept on going. What is God teaching you today about joyfulness and the priority of Never quitting?
Prayer Focus: Pray that we would be a people who are truly committed to the vision of this House; committed even in the seasons of hardship and toil.