“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).
Paul was a prisoner of Rome. Why then did he call himself “the prisoner of the Lord”? Because he had the ability to see everything in terms of how it affected Christ. No matter what happened in his life, he saw it in relation to God. His questions were, “What does this mean, God?” and “How does this affect You?”
When a problem comes in life, we are prone to say, “Oh, woe is me!” and wonder how it will affect us: Will it cause me pain? Will it cost me money? Too often we think only on the earthly level. But like Paul, we should think on a heavenly level: What is God trying to teach me? How can I glorify Him in this? In fact, a good definition of Christian maturity is: automatically seeing things in light of the divine perspective.
This perspective, this God-consciousness, is the only right way for Christians to live. David said, “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely” (Ps. 16:8-9). Because David was always aware of God’s presence, he found joy and security, and no trouble could disturb him for long.
Paul was the same way: he knew there was a reason for his imprisonment and that Christ would be glorified by it (cf. Phil. 1:12-14). Paul wasn’t preoccupied with how it affected him, and thus he was able to rejoice, even in prison.
“God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Nothing happens outside of God’s control. Let’s trust that He knows what is best for us.
Suggestions for Prayer
If you tend to get discouraged or complain when troubles come, ask God to forgive you and help you see troubles from His perspective. Acknowledge before Him that He is in control of everything.
For Further Study
Paul’s attitude toward difficulties was cultivated by the experience he describes in 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. What did Christ teach him about troubles in verse 9, and how did that change Paul’s outlook?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,