In this passage, Paul has just talked about being in chains for Christ and has laid out some of the difficulty he is experiencing as a Christ-follower. In these six verses in particular, Paul recognizes the reality that life on earth is hard and that living in a broken world means that difficulty will come. He even goes as far to reflect on how much easier it would be to "depart" and be with Christ. However, if you read carefully, you will see a clear picture of Paul's heart in the midst of this genuine struggle. Rather than being discouraged, Paul describes himself as eagerly expectant and hopeful in the promise He has as a child of God that he will not be ashamed and trusts that the Lord will give him sufficient courage to advance God's kingdom. He models a posture of willingness to partner with God and to remain in the body, trusting that God has him in the body on purpose and that God's purposes are worth fighting for. Rather than being discouraged by his circumstances, Paul chooses to actively seek God's heart for his situation and is encouraged, not based on his circumstances, but rather on his trust in God's character.
The reason that Paul's posture of willingness, his trust of who God is and of His purposes, and his understanding of God's heart matters is because all of these things stem from a place of a healthy understanding of what it means to be a child of God. Once we gain a healthy understanding of who we are as a child of God, we are able to walk in the power and authority that that position carries. And that matters because we are most effective with the people we minister to and to the world when we live out of a place of understanding that we are powerful. Paul demonstrates his understanding of this when he states in verse 26 that he is convinced that he is to remain in the body because "through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me." He understood that his willingness, his faithfulness to walk towards God's purposes and his expectancy will yield fruit because of who God is and what God wants to do through him. And that matters because as Paul stood confident in his position as a child of God, he was enabled to minister effectively and advance the kingdom.
In applying this passage to our own walk with Christ, it is important to first reflect on Paul's posture towards God throughout these verses. As Paul engaged in the opportunities that God laid before him, his posture was willingness. We all have opportunities before us that God has specifically put in our path to partner with him in ministry - friends on our hall, classmates, family. There will be times where stewarding these opportunities well will be easy, there will be times where being faithful to the people or situations God has laid before us will be incredibly difficult. But all God asks of us is to be willing & if we posture ourselves towards him with willingness, trusting in the powerful position we have as children of God & trusting his character over our circumstances - He promises to be faithful to move and to produce fruit from our efforts. So today ask yourself: What does it look like for me personally to be willing? Ask God that today.
Lord, I trust you. I trust your character. I trust your purposes. God, I pray that you would help me be willing especially when its hard to be willing. God give me faith that you have purpose with each opportunity you lay before me. I pray that you would help me faithful. Thank you for using me. Amen.
- Megan McGarrah