Johnny Cash is the *bomb* – I love that guy. I’ve been listening to his music since I could, well, listen. There’s something about it – soulful, haunting, sometimes even angry. I can always find a Johnny Cash song for whatever I’m going through in life. I can identify with Folsom Prison Blues right now. Nope – not incarcerated at this time, but I feel trapped. Have you ever felt that way? Trapped by circumstances, by life, by a job or a relationship? Ever felt that things will never change, and there’s no way out?
Out of all the people in the bible, if you feel this way, maybe you can identify with Paul. He actually did spent some time in the pokey, and he didn’t even do anything wrong. Maybe that’s why I can identify. Everything is good in life, I have no reason to complain, and yet here I am, trapped.
Philippians 1:12-19 tells a little bit about Paul’s attitude while he was cooling his heals. Can you imagine being joyful while being imprisoned for something you didn’t do? Can you imagine suffering for something that you did that was the right thing?
Most of us would give up at that point and try something else. Not Paul. It seems the more bad happened to Paul, the more he rejoiced! Strange, right? Even worse, while Paul was in prison, some people took the opportunity to preach for the wrong reason, most likely to boost their own reputation or for monetary gain.
Paul was just glad the Gospel was being preached. It didn’t matter what the motives were of the people preaching, because lives were being changed. That is the power of the Word of God!
Can you rejoice like Paul when everything around you falls apart? When you are persecuted unjustly? When you suffer hardship for nothing more than doing the right thing?
Read Psalm 1. God is mighty and just! He sees the ways of the righteous, and the ways of the wicked will perish! Have hope – God is on your side!
Something to think about -
What was the effect of Paul’s imprisonment on other Christians?
How did Paul feel about those who preached Christ for selfish motives? How do you feel about those that seem to profit from the preaching of God’s Word?
What do you think was the force behind Paul’s attitude of joy while under arrest?
What will it take for you to experience that same joy during hard times in your life?