“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” Colossians 1:28-29
Paul was imprisoned in Rome, and yet this man of God found great purpose in this. Paul discovered that power was available to him in spite of the restrictions imposed upon him by this. He was incarcerated by Roman authority, but at the same time liberated by God’s authority.
Paul was a prisoner in Rome, but an ambassador to the world. By Roman power, Paul’s body was chained to one man. By God’s power his message was communicated to “every man.” His purpose in life was not choked out, by this, or by any other crisis. It was given a more powerful voice.
Appearances can be deceiving. Things are not always what they seem to be. Wisdom is the capacity to see life through God’s eyes, without being blinded by the punch in the face from the unexpected or undeserved crises of life. Wisdom is not the capacity to always avoid every crisis. It is the humility to remain teachable in the middle of this crisis.
When the United States was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor in 1941, it was a major disaster, but it was not a complete disaster. Most people reacted in panic at the sight, smells, and sounds of the crisis. A few wise leaders assessed the damage and came up with a proper response to hit.
When wise eyes assessed crisis, they noticed that Japan had attacked on a Sunday. This miscalculation left the majority of the sailors safely on shore. It also meant that trained, highly motivated, and able seamen were available to begin the counter attack. The repair facilities were not damaged. This meant the ships that were sunk, could be raised, repaired and returned to the battle line much faster than originally expected. The attack galvanized and mobilized the American people for the long road to victory. Cooler heads prevailed. Wisdom responded to the crisis, from December 1941 to September 1945. The rest, as they say, is history.
Paul’s response to his crisis of faith was to continue to “proclaim Him” during the crisis, not to blame Him for it. Paul kept his eye on Jesus.
Paul’s preaching, proclaiming, announcing, declaring, admonishing, and teaching were influenced by walking with Jesus. Praying through the crisis led Paul to God’s purpose for this crisis, not to complaining about it.
“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” Oswald Chambers
Paul’s purpose in life was to lead God’s children to maturity in Christ, not to raise spoiled brats who always expected to get their own way. There is a huge difference between being childlike and childish. Being complete in Christ begins with a childlike faith that refuses to be childish.
Recently an 18 year-old daughter in New Jersey sued her parents. When they enforced their ground rules, she left the house. She broke fellowship with the family, but wanted the financial benefits of the relationship. The judge determined she was out of line to live in rebellion to her parents and expect them to support her life-style. Paul would have agreed with the judgment, completely.
Much has been made of the word purpose in the past 20 years. Most of it has been helpful. In this case, the word is not specifically mentioned, but it makes it no less inferred. The word “this” refers to maturing or completing believers in Christ. There is no substitute for proclaiming Jesus as the only answer for the questions of life. In the late 1980’s there was a song that proclaimed, “When answers aren’t enough, there is Jesus.” It was right on target.
Paul never forgot about this. He refused to say, “I don’t deserve this. I don’t need this. I don’t receive this.” Paul accepted this, and put it in the hands of Jesus.
T.H.I.S. = The Hurt I Suffer
By praying his way through T.H.I.S., Paul led people to maturity in Christ. Paul labored for this great purpose. He strived against great odds to do it. He was not a patsy, a pushover or a victim of circumstance. His pride got in the way. Still, he strived not just to introduce people to Jesus as the means to be saved completely, but to show them how to appropriate His power to behave properly.
Note to self: When you are hit with T.H.I.S. Take it to Jesus in prayer and leave it there. If your pride is hurt, let it lead you to the humility to learn from T.H.I.S. Paul did.
Paul tapped into a power that was mightily available within him to rise above the crisis, not just to endure it. The language describes an effort that was sheer agony for Paul to yield to this dynamic energy to be released through him. His flesh would resent and resist T.H.I.S. In the end, prayer led him to settle for nothing less than more of The Spirit of God. Prayer warriors always do the same. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!
Dr. Gary and Dana L. Miller
For over 40 years, Gary and Dana Miller have invested their lives in the pastoral ministry of churches in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Georgia. Gary and Dana believe the hope of the world is the local church, and the strength of the church is sustained by praying people.
They have taught extensively on the role of prayer in spiritual awakening, counseled people to build strong marriages by equipping husbands and wives to pray together and have ministered internationally in Hong Kong, Japan, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia and Switzerland through their TALK LESS! PRAY MORE! Prayer Conferences.
Gary and Dana live in Fort Worth, Texas and have been married for 40 years. They are parents of two grown daughters, Ashley and Allyson.