Sometimes, life's circumstances can feel like a prison! Perhaps, your "prison" is a bad marriage, a rebellious child, a houseful of little ones, a looming financial concern, a besetting sin, an illness or some other difficulty. The Apostle Paul was no stranger to imprisonment. He wrote to the Ephesians while in prison and it's worth noting his outlook as he faithfully wore his prisoner chains. Paul says, "For this reason, I, Paul the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of the Gentiles" Ephesians 3:1) and "And as a prisoner for the Lord' (Ephesians 4:1). Paul was willing to suffer for Christ and for the advancement of the gospel in the lives of others. Are you? Whatever your "prison" circumstances, do you see yourself as a prisoner of the Lord for the sake of others? No doubt, Paul's readers would have thought his situation bleak, but Paul saw it differently. He knew God was in the trouble. He trusted in the Soveriengty of God to superintend every detail of his life, even his suffering. We know, by the power and grace of God, Paul learned to be content wherever he was and whatever the condition (Philippians 4:10-13). Sinclair Ferguson writes, "Here Paul, 'the caged bird', sings from a full heart about the grace of God in the gospel. He is a prisoner, yet the gospel has set him inwardly free." The gospel can set us free too from our personal chains and prison cell; so take heart wherever you are or whatever your condition! You are not a prisoner of your marriage, but of Christ. You are not a prisoner of a rebellious teen or a house full of toddlers, but of Christ. You are not a prisoner of finances, sickness, or any other calamity, but of Christ. You are not a prison of your sin, but of Christ. Your prison is a platform to preach! Never forget that ultimately you are a prisoner of Jesus Christ and your imprisonment serves to mature you, promote the gospel in others, and ultimately give the Lord Jesus Christ the honor due Him!
Points to Ponder:
1.What struggle, circumstance, or relationship serves as your "personal prison"?
2. How might viewing yourself as a "prisoner of Christ Jesus" change your outlook?
3. With a biblical outlook, how might your "chains" be used to advance the gospel in your situation?
4. A biblical outlook can only be achieved through a right understanding of God, suffering, and the powerful work of the gospel to set you inwardly free. What practical steps can you take to change your outlook from prison to praise to platform?