Enjoying Life or Enduring Life?

Evening Sky-Photo by: Mark J. Booth

The jail cell was damp and cold.  The quality of the food was dismal.  The Apostle Paul didn’t know if he would soon be executed.  How could he enjoy life in the midst of such dismal circumstances?

The Apostle Paul faced many trying times in his life, but he enjoyed life instead of enduring life.  Many of us no longer enjoy life. We complain about our circumstances. Self-pity controls our thought patterns.  Anxiety keeps us from enjoying God’s presence.  We have the idea that enjoying life is based upon our circumstances.  Paul’s circumstances were dismal in the Roman jail; yet he enjoyed his life.  Let’s look at why Paul enjoyed life even while he was suffering in a Roman jail.

1. Paul enjoyed his life because he had a purpose in life.  “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:1)

Many people don’t have a life purpose.  They have a vague idea that they should be doing something for themselves, for their family. and for their community; however, they have no real purpose.  Paul enjoyed his life because he had a purpose!  His purpose was to serve His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Paul enjoyed life because he knew that he belonged to the King of Kings. Paul wasn’t pulled in many different directions.  He received his directions from Christ.  He even understood that his time in prison was for the glory of His Master.  He wrote in another letter.  “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ”.   We will enjoy life when we live each day in light of the fact that “I am a servant of Jesus Christ”.

2. Paul enjoyed his life because he experienced God’s grace and peace.  “Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:2)  

Paul wasn’t alone in his jail cell.  The Lord was with him.  Paul enjoyed his life because he was aware of God’s presence even in the most difficult of times.  God’s grace enabled Paul not only to survive in his trials, but also to thrive.  God’s peace gave him the knowledge that no matter what was happening in his life, God was in control.  We enjoy  life when we experience God’s grace and peace in even the greatest storm of our life.

3. Paul enjoyed his life because he invested his life in others“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,” (Philippians 1:3)

Even in prison, Paul was ministering to others.  He wrote his letter to the believers at Philippi to encourage them.  He was willing to sacrifice his life for others.  He prayed for others.  He shared the Word of God with others.  He loved others.  Paul didn’t focus upon his problems, but he used his problems as a means of ministering to others.  There is great enjoyment in seeing God use us in the lives of others.  We minister to others through our testimony, our prayers, our words of encouragement, our expressions of love, and our sharing the truths of God’s Word.

4. Paul enjoyed his life, because he understood that his trials brought glory to God.  “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12)

Paul’s time in jail was part of God’s overall plan.  God used Paul as a witness to the many people with whom he came into contact.  God also used Paul’s imprisonment to encourage other believers to go out and share the gospel.  God doesn’t allow things to enter into our lives for our harm, but for the good of ourselves and others.  We can enjoy life when we surrender to God’s purpose for our trial.

5. Paul enjoyed his life because he knew the future.  “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Paul showed joy even in facing death, because he knew that death was the door through which he would enter heaven.  We enjoy our life on earth when we live for Christ and keep our focus upon the eternal reward that waits for us in heaven.  When we live our lives for ourselves, our focus is upon this life alone.  Paul saw the big picture, do we?

“Dear Lord, I often feel as though I am enduring life.  I focus on my problems.  I focus on my needs.  I focus on the faults of others. Thank you for Paul’s example to me of a man who enjoyed his life in spite of the dire circumstances he faced.  Please help to enjoy my life in you regardless of the circumstances that I face. Thank you for your great patience and love towards me.  Amen”

Personal Thoughts from the Chick-fil-A Discussion

Chick-fil-A and the issue of marriage has caused me to reflect upon my own life.  It has also brought about several questions concerning my  life and my view of God.  The following questions have helped me to make this whole controversy a learning and growing experience.

1. What is my view of God?  Do I see God as He presents Himself in His Word; or do I see God as I want Him to be?  Do I believe in all of God’s attributes or only the ones that are appealing to me?  Do I understand that God doesn’t change with society?  God says in His Word: “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6)   How I view God will often dictate my decisions, actions, and viewpoints..

2. What is the condition of my heart before God?  Is my heart right with God?  Do I seek to please God in everything I do?  Do I pray with the Psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts.”? (Psalm 139:23)  It is easy to take up a cause, but am I willing to take up the cross of Christ? Am I willing to sacrifice my all for Him?

3. What is the condition of my marriage?  I can’t control if people accept or reject the Biblical teaching of marriage, but I can do something about my marriage.  Do I love my wife as Christ loves the church?  Am I the spiritual leader that God calls me to be?  Does our marriage bring honor to the Lord?

4. Am I willing to believe and obey the Word of God in every area of my life?   I can confuse human opinions with God’s truth.  There is absolute truth.  Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  The ideas of society may change; however, the Word of God doesn’t change.

5. What am I doing to reach others with the Gospel of Christ?  Paul clearly didn’t seek to reform the Roman culture.  He desired to see each soul  turn to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.   Paul stated: “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. ” (Romans 1:15)  Do I get caught up in social issues and forget the main issue?

6. Do I truly live as though I am a citizen of heaven?  Do I want to fit into the society around me?  Do I feel rejected and upset if I am not accepted by society?  The Apostle Peter said: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)
A believer in Christ is merely a pilgrim in this world.  My goal is not to please the world, but to please the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Dear Lord, I see that our society often disregards your Word; however, I have also disregarded your Word.  Please forgive me for the sin in my life.  Please forgive me for comparing my life to other people. I need to compare my life to your absolute standard of holiness.  Help me to keep my eyes focused upon you in spite of what is happening around me.  Thank you for being merciful towards me.     Your love for me is beyond my comprehension. Thank you for working in my life, even in times when it is painful. Amen.”