Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Content In Prison

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Philippians 4:12

I have to continually remind myself that Paul is writing these incredibly powerful and positive words from a miserable Roman dungeon surrounded by rats, roaches and chained to a Roman guard. He awakes to wonder if this day will be his last. Some days he hopes it will be.

I also remember that he could have been released from all of that distress in a matter of hours if he would have disavowed his faith and disowned his God.

But he had learned to be more contented in this prison than he could ever be in a palace.

How is that possible?

He had long ago come to a radical conclusion that what he had in Christ was greater that what he didn't have in life!

As miserable as the Roman dungeon was, and the Romans worked hard to keep them miserable. Paul had found himself in even greater distress.

"Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones,three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin,and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." II Corinthians 11:23-20

Wow! That's a lot of suffering! Severe suffering! How did he endure all of that misery and torture? Why didn't he just curse God and quit? He had a good life as a Pharisee and could have gone back to that status.

So how did he endure such cruelty and rejection?

He had long ago come to the conviction that what he had in Christ was far better than anything he didn't have in life.

No wonder he could say with complete integrity, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21

Can you say that about your relationship with Christ?

Have you come to share his conviction that what you have in Christ is far better than anything you don't have in life?