To the Work #4. “For the greater progress.”

To the Work #4. “For the greater progress.”

I try to imagine myself looking at my feet bolted into those stocks in that dirty, stinking jail in Philippi. There in my misery I look to my left and my right and I see Paul and Silas—two of the happiest souls on earth. But if that’s not disconcerting enough, Paul slaps me on the back, laughs and says, “Lead us in a hymn of praise, brother.” But before I can stop my desperate, repetitious prayers for deliverance long enough to think of a song, Paul suddenly belts out all six verses of “Trust and Obey.” And that is about the time I ask, “Why did I ever leave that job in Antioch?”

I would hope that I would be more like those two great missionaries on such occasions, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. But, of course, betting their lives on it was exactly what they did, and that’s why the gospel went forward. When Paul and Silas were sitting in stocks in that Philippi jail, they were simply doing what needed to be done for the greater progress of the gospel.

The big difference between our missionaries and the rest of us is that they walked into every situation believing that it was an opportunity to evangelise. This meant that they were willing to go without food to share faith, and willing to take the beatings with the baptisms. They saw every aspect of themselves—talents, gifts, personality, education, experiences—as tools to share Christ in every situation.

Was everything perfect? No! Did everyone in the church appreciate their hard work and sacrifice? No, again! Paul knew that some of his personal critics were disingenuous. But he wasn’t going to allow the small minded to get in the way of his work for Jesus. He said of his pretend-evangelists:

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).

So, we too work believing that everything is working for the greater progress of the gospel!

John Staiger


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