Paul was in prison. His life had been put on "pause," and he was in social isolation.
It sounds much like our lives today, doesn't it? Paul ached to speak with and to be with those whom he loved, but it was impossible due to his dire circumstances.
Paul didn't know when he would be set free from his unfair confinement or if he would ever have the delight of visiting the churches he loved so dearly. And yet Paul stayed intent on his purpose, was filled with great joy and even remained content while his life seemed to be passing him by. The book of Philippians, which Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, may just hold tenable truths that we desperately need for our lives today in the spring of 2020.
Paul was in social quarantine due to a prison sentence, and yet he was still encouraging others through the communication medium of the day, which was through writing letters. Writing a personal letter today would almost seem to be an archaic form of communication, but for thousands of years, people communicated through the handwriting of letters to those with whom they desired to stay in contact.
Today, in these early years of the 21st century, we employ the ease of texting, emailing, tweeting, talking on the phone and posting on social media in order to remain in communication with people in our lives.
While we are sequestered due to COVID-19, our lives can continue to have impact as well. People in less than ideal conditions are the only kind of people God ever uses. God can use you because of His great power regardless of your social situation or what is happening in our current culture.
Paul's words made a difference to the church at Philippi and your words can make a difference to those whom you love and long to see. Not only did Paul's letters encourage an entire church body 2,000 years ago, but they have also echoed through the centuries to our lives today. Although the book of Philippians wasn't written to you it was written for you!
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:2).
Paul used the words "grace" and "peace" when beginning his letter to the Philippians. It is also interesting to note, as well as convicting, that Paul used the words "joy" or "rejoicing" no less than 16 times in this very short book of the Bible. Paul knew that to make an impact on someone's life, the words you speak are very important—they are very important indeed.
What words are you using to post on social media today? What words pepper your text messages or phone calls? Do you find yourself complaining about the government and about the politicians in charge? Are you whining about the media coverage and about your loss of income?
I can guarantee you that Paul, one of the greatest men who ever lived, would not be complaining, whining or giving his opinion. Paul would be spreading the gifts of grace and peace and He would be talking about his joy that nothing could take away.
Don't waste these days when it seems as if the entire world is on hold. Use this time to encourage others and to speak joy, grace and peace into their lives. Rather than entering into political disagreements and giving an opinion based upon cultural answers, remind those under your sphere of influence of the hope that they have in Christ Jesus. It is, after all, what Paul would do.
Who knows? The words you speak and write today just may change someone's life 2,000 years from now!
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical, biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. Carol has written 11 books, including Significant, StormProof and Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.
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