When God Uses Evil for His Good
Read Philippians 1:12-14 (ESV)
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
How have you seen God work through the trials in your life?
One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is the story of Joseph. You can read it in Genesis 37-50. Long story short, his brothers sell him into slavery and he ends up in Egypt. After a series of events, Joseph finds himself as Pharaoh’s second in command and he’s charged with leading Egypt through an impending famine. Eventually, his brothers come to Egypt for food and find themselves at Joseph’s mercy.
It’s likely that Joseph struggled with wanting to repay evil with evil. And yet, he doesn’t. In Genesis 50:20 Joseph says to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
How similar to what Paul is saying in today’s passage! Paul wrote Philippians while he was imprisoned in Rome. You can read about the events that led up to this imprisonment in Acts 21:17-28:31. Like Joseph, Paul was given a raw deal. Paul was falsely accused and ended up arrested and imprisoned on false charges. He had every right to be angry and upset at the injustice of it all. And yet, he knew that even in prison, he was within the will of the Lord. God had plans and purposes for Paul and those plans included being in that prison in Rome.
Paul’s primary objective in his life was to preach the Gospel. And jail time did not slow him down at all. In fact, Paul says that his circumstances actually served to advance the Gospel! Paul was chained to a Roman soldier all day every day. While chained to these guards, he was able to share the good news of Jesus Christ to them. Paul said that because of his imprisonment, the Gospel became known to the whole imperial guard and to other officials in Caesar’s court.
Paul’s attitude during his imprisonment also had a positive impact on the spread of the Gospel. Other brothers in Christ heard about Paul and how he continued to boldly proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ despite being chained up. It was a great encouragement to them. Their trust and confidence in the Lord grew and they began to be much more bold in their own declarations of the Gospel.
The Jews and Romans intended evil for Paul. But God meant it for good so that many people would be saved through Paul’s testimony.
Friends, do not be discouraged when you encounter trials and hardships, no matter how unjust or unfair they may be. God has a long history of using bad circumstances for His good. Be encouraged!
Lord, no matter what circumstances I find myself in, help me find ways to be used by You to advance Your Gospel. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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