But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (Philippians 1:12-14)
Paul had a special relationship with the Christians in Philippi; they were not only part of a church he founded, but they were also his friends. Sometimes our friends are confused at what God is doing in our life – and sometimes we are even more confused! In Philippians 1:12-14, Paul wanted to reassure the Philippians that God was doing good even when it looked bad.
When Paul was in Philippi, he was arrested and imprisoned. But God miraculously freed him, and he continued preaching the gospel (Acts 16:25-34). When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he was in a jail in Rome. Paul’s Philippian friends were probably thinking, “God used a miracle to set Paul free before. Why doesn’t God do it now? Is He letting Paul down, or is Paul in sin?” In Philippians 1:12-14, Paul assured them that God’s blessing and power were still with him, even in prison – he was not out of God’s will.
Considering how God set Paul free in Philippi, we shouldn’t be surprised they wondered where the power of God was in Paul’s present imprisonment. If Paul wasn’t being advanced, that was all right – because his passion was to see the gospel advanced. Even though Paul was in prison, the circumstances around his imprisonment, and his manner during it, made it clear to everyone he was not just another prisoner, but he was an emissary of Jesus; this witness led to the conversion of many including his guards.
In fact, Paul’s imprisonment gave the Christians around him, who were not imprisoned, greater confidence and boldness, because they saw that Paul could have joy in the midst of adversity. They saw that God would take care of Paul and still use him even in prison. We also know this turned out for the furtherance of the gospel because during this time he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. When Paul was in bad circumstances, God was using him.
God didn’t waste Paul’s time in Rome. God never wastes our time, though we may waste it by not sensing God’s purpose for our lives in our present situation. Are you in a bad place – even a “prison” of some sort? God can use you right where you are, and He wants to. Stop thinking your situation must change before God’s power can be evident in your life. It can be evident right now.
God gave Paul the ability to see the good in a Roman prison – this God is with us!