This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
(Ephesians 3:11-13 ESV)
Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians while imprisoned in Rome. While in Jerusalem a few years earlier he was preaching that the Gentiles were part of God’s salvation plan too, just as he has been writing about in this letter. But this teaching upset the Jews who had him arrested [Acts 21:39-22:22]. Paul, being a Roman citizen by birth, appealed to Caesar, which was his right. So he was transferred to Rome and was awaiting trial at the time he wrote this letter.
As a result of teaching the truth Paul had lost his freedom for about five years. But he did not want his readers to lose heart over this. After all, it was because of his teaching that Gentiles, such as the Ephesians, came to be saved.
Its true that if he hadn’t preached such a radical message he would not have been arrested. But if he had not preached it, then the Gentiles would not have had the knowledge they needed to have their sins forgiven. Paul’s temporary suffering resulted in their permanent and eternal glory (benefit).
This should be a reminder to all of us to be willing to speak the truth, even when some will object to the message. And certainly, in the world we live in today, many people object to the message of Jesus Christ. This includes government which is doing all it can to suppress the Bible and message of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. But this should not intimidate us in the least.
There are still many people who are interested. And everyone, including the most hard-hearted critics, need to hear the truth. Whether they believe or not does not matter. We can’t control what they believe. We only plant seeds. God makes them grow [1 Corinthians 3:6].
The alternative is for believers in Christ to be silent or, worse, water down the message of salvation through Jesus so that it is more palatable to the human ego. But in either case, we are doing a huge disservice to those in our sphere of influence. Not having the information they need, or having the wrong information, leads to an eternal death sentence.
Before we are saved we live our lives for ourselves and our own material comfort. But, once we are saved, our lives take on a whole new meaning. We now live for others. Specifically, the purpose of our lives is to lead others to Christ by what we say and do.
That is what Paul did. He took the message of salvation to those who needed to hear it, even though others in power were vehemently opposed to it. They then exercised their power over Paul and he suffered as a result. But his loss was temporary. The Gentiles gain was eternal. And that is a worthwhile exchange.
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