My imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else.
Paul’s imprisonment in Rome gave him contact with unbelievers. Now, if your life purpose is to make Christ known to others, you need to be in contact with unbelievers, don’t you? Paul’s imprisonment allowed him to do that. He said in Philippians 1:13, “My imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else.”
The praetorian guard were Roman soldiers who worked for the emperor. Their job was not only to protect Caesar and his family, but also to guard prisoners, like Paul, who were in Rome to make their case before Caesar. So for two years, Paul was guarded by these soldiers. He was perhaps even chained to them. What do you think Paul talked about with those guards? He had a captive audience, so to speak. What a great opportunity for him to share the gospel! Those guards watched Paul pray. They saw his courage. They listened as he dictated letters to the churches. And many of them were won to Christ.
Notice that Paul added, “and to everyone else.” The praetorian guard guarded Caesar’s family in the palace, and many members of Caesar’s household came to know Christ. How do we know that? Because in Philippians 4:22, Paul said, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.” How did members of Caesar’s household become Christians? They were converted through those praetorian guards who had been won to Christ by Paul. That’s why Paul rejoiced. His imprisonment allowed him to have contact with unbelievers he would not have had in any other situation.
Paul’s imprisonment also provided courage for believers. He said in Philippians 1:14, “Most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” When Christians in Rome saw how Paul responded to his circumstances, it gave them courage to spread the gospel. Paul said, “If my imprisonment encourages believers to share the gospel, then it’s worth the trouble.”
Your purpose in life is the lens through which you will view adversity. For example, if your purpose in life is to accumulate money, then any financial setback is a tragedy. If your purpose in life is to achieve a certain job, then failing to get a promotion is a tragedy. If your purpose in life is centered on a relationship, then to lose that relationship is a tragedy. However, when your purpose in life is to glorify God, even tragedies have a way of becoming triumphs. Paul was saying, “I have a positive purpose in life that has the power to give me joy in unwelcome circumstances.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Power of a Positive Purpose” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.