A Time for Great Things

There’s a popular meme that’s been shared on social media about great things that have been accomplished during pandemics. (Shakespeare evidently wrote “King Lear” during the plague.)  It reminds us that this has happened before and that good things can come out of pandemics.

Paul, likewise, used his times of imprisonment well. His example of time well spent seems not only more attainable but also more practical and useful:

  • Paul did not see himself as a prisoner of man but as a slave/ servant of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:1, HCSB/NIV).  His identity in Christ provided perspective on his circumstances. No matter where he was or what happened to him, Jesus was his master and, therefore, the One in charge. For Paul, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). 
  • Paul wrote letters of encouragement to people (an entire letter to the Philippians). He used his time to encourage and teach others. If Paul were alive today, he would have a paid subscription to Zoom; participate in nursing home parades; talk to his neighbors as he went for walks; call people; and point people to God on Facebook (with a few funny posts, here and there).
  • Paul prayed for others. He thanked God for everyone he remembered in prayer (1:3). He prayed for them with joy (1:4). He prayed that the Philippians’ love would “keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment” (1:9).
  • Paul kept his focus on eternity and the mission. As a servant of Jesus, he knew that the most important task was to tell others about Jesus. He saw the church at Philippi not only as his friends but also as “partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel” (1:7). He mentions the “day of Christ” twice (1:6 and 1:10), as he reminds the Philippians to carry on their good work of telling others about Christ. Having an eternal focus on what is truly important enabled Paul (and now us) to see beyond the present circumstances.

Memes don’t always provide encouragement and inspiration (I haven’t finished my book). However, the Word of God always does.

Today, follow the example of Paul: remember whose you are, encourage someone, and pray as you focus on eternity.

By LaRaine Rice

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