“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”
Paul was in prison. In prison! Did God make a mistake allowing this? How could He allow this warrior of the cross to be shut up like this? Just when he was doing so much good.
Have you ever felt like that? Just when things were going so well—wham! It all comes to a screeching halt over some untimely circumstance.
And of course, when that happens, people start to talk. And to judge. Well, they say, God must really be dealing in his life...she must be doing something terribly wrong...makes you wonder what’s really going on...
Satan is called “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10) for a reason. He loves to stir up trouble among believers with innuendo, implied wrongdoing, gossip, and doubt about one another’s faith and character. He loves to cause fellow believers to lay guilt trips on each other.
Paul had his share of critics who loved to accuse him of all sorts of wrongdoing and ill motives. Some were jealous. Others just plain didn’t like him. Some grieved over his imprisonment. Others were just as glad he was out of the way for a while. But Paul had learned a secret about rising above such circumstances. He didn’t run from his despair or hardship. He didn’t live in denial. He lived in absolute faith that God knows what He’s doing.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Paul knew his purpose: to preach the Gospel. So no matter how it happened, in prison or out, through good motives or impure ones—he was able to rejoice because ultimately God was fulfilling His purposes in Paul’s life.
That’s how I long to live—rejoicing, in the midst of tears, laughter, pain, or joy —knowing that in it all, God’s love never fails.
devotional by Pastor Ray Bentley