“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” Philippians 3:8a
Have you had a tough week? Is today not looking much better? Paul, in the Bible, was human just like you and me. He experienced the “ups and downs” of life like us but something was different about him. What Paul had is not out of yours and my grasp.
Paul went through all kinds of hardships: beatings, shipwrecks, starvation, homelessness, and imprisonment. At one point he was in a Roman prison in chains for speaking boldly for Christ. He pens a letter to many of the churches in the region near Ephesus. We call this letter in the Bible “Ephesians”.
Ephesians is one of the most beautifully written books in the Bible. In the first chapter, he describes the position of the believer in Jesus Christ and gives great thanks for their faith in Him.
How could a man chained in prison have the perspective and fortitude to write such a wonderful epistle?
First, Paul knew his own identity. In Ephesians 1:1 it says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” An apostle is “one sent”. Paul had met the Lord on the road to Damascus and clearly heard his call to live for Him. He knew Jesus had sent him to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom to those who were lost. Everything he did was because God wanted him to do it. Paul knew who he was and this was demonstrated through his actions.
Second, Paul was others-focused. Paul rarely referenced himself and his own troubles unless it was to encourage or challenge others. In the second part of Ephesians 1:1, it indicates the letter is sent “To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.” The reason we have so many letters from Paul that contribute significantly to our Bible today is because Paul had a true heart for others. He cared about what others needed and demonstrated this through reaching out through his missionary travels. When he could not or was not allowed to travel because of imprisonment, he used written communication. No doubt if Paul was with us today he would have used any and every appropriate media possible to reach out to others.
Third, Paul focused on Christ and blessed others. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:3-4) Paul continues in this first chapter to the Ephesians to share with them how they are loved, redeemed, adopted, chosen, and included in Christ. His focus is completely on Christ and the significance of who people are in Him.
When you are having a challenging day, remember who you are in Christ, change your focus to others and on the Lord Jesus Himself. Out of this perspective and the life found in the Spirit, you will experience the same joy as Paul.
William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at www.OneMaster.org.