Fridays in Philippians – Side Effects of Suffering

Thanks for joining me for our Fridays in Philippians Devotion.  Today we’re looking at Chapter 1 and verses 12-14:

Philippians 1:12–13: 12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

Paul was in a very difficult situation, yet his adverse circumstances did not rob him of his joy or affect his positive outlook. He was in prison while writing the Book of Philippians. He had been falsely accused and mistreated. Even some, who claimed to be Christians, were mistreating Paul and taking advantage of his imprisonment. They saw Paul’s incarceration as an opportunity to advance their own personal agenda. But even in the middle of his troubles, Paul maintained an incredible attitude.

He said to the Philippians, “Listen, brothers, don’t pity me. Don’t feel sorry for me. All that has happened to me has served to advance the Gospel!” He was being mistreated, abused and unjustly accused; yet was still able to focus on the good that was resulting from his imprisonment. In this terribly difficult time, he found the silver lining. He said, I may be in prison, but as a result of my bonds, the Gospel is being preached – and that is good!

PhilippiansWhen you can find the good in the worst of circumstances, you have unlocked a key to joy. When you can look at your difficult situation and find the silver lining, you are on the path to possessing joy in the middle of your adversity. Don’t fall into the trap of self-centeredness when in your trial – that is a sure-fire way to lose your joy. As you focus your attention upon the ultimate purpose of God and ministry to others, you will find a deep source of joy that will sustain you through your trial!

Over the next few Fridays, we will look at three positive things that happened as a result of Paul’s imprisonment. We will see how he focused, not on his personal discomfort, but rather upon the ultimate purpose of God that was being fulfilled through his suffering – and that brought him joy in tribulation.

The Gospel Was Being Advanced

Philippians 1:12: But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

Paul said, as a result of my imprisonment, the Gospel is being advanced! People philippianswere hearing and obeying the Gospel as a result of Paul’s incarceration. How was that possible? Paul makes mention of those “in the palace” being affected by his bonds. He’s referring to those Romans who guarded him during his imprisonment. For two years Paul was on house arrest under the close, watchful eyes of the Roman guards. What did those guards see? What did they hear? They heard and saw things that caused some of them to become Christians. They must have heard Paul praying! They surely overheard Paul preaching and teaching those who came to visit him while on house arrest. I’m certain Paul even talked directly to those guards about his testimony and the power of Christ’s Gospel.

Some of those guards were converted! The word, “Palace” in verse 13 in the King James Version is referring to the palace guards, also called the Praetorian Guard. These were a group of special forces who also guarded the emperor. These were highly trained men of great caliber. (Which testifies to us that the Gospel is powerful enough to reach anyone!) It was likely that some of the same men who guarded Paul also guarded the emperor, Caesar!

Look what Paul says in Philippians 4:22:

All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household. KJV

It’s incredible to think about: There were Christian converts in Caesar’s very own household! “Household” here could mean Caesar’s immediate family or, more likely, those who worked in the palace. (Including the Praetorian Guard) Could it be that Paul converted men of the Pretorian guard who then shared their faith with members of Caesar’s house? In any event, Paul made an impact upon those who guarded him during those two years while on house arrest.

Your difficulty doesn’t preclude you from doing God’s work nor does it hinder your effectiveness. You can be fruitful, even in your desert or trial.

The guards were undoubtedly affected by Paul’s teaching and testimony, but they also must have been affected by observing his life! They saw a consistency between what he said and what he did. They were silent witnesses to how Paul handled adversity and injustice. They knew he was being mistreated. They knew he was no common criminal! They witnessed an incredible attitude that was a testament to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That made an impact! Paul shows Christ through how he handled adversity. Oh, my! How many present day Christians would be on Facebook and Twitter complaining and looking for sympathy about their unfortunate circumstances and unjust treatment! But Paul says to the Philippians, the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel…”

These things all happened while Paul was a prisoner! Paul was fruitful, even in affliction. Your difficulty doesn’t preclude you from doing God’s work nor does it hinder your effectiveness. You can be fruitful, even in your desert or trial. In fact, Paul’s adversity may have even increased his effectiveness. Be encouraged! Even in your trial, you can have joy that stems from knowing that there are positive things happening as a result of your adversity.

Until next Friday,

~Matthew Ball

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