Big Idea: Whether weakness or strength, we should long for whatever advances the gospel.
Most Christians would agree that we should be willing to spread the gospel. But how do you feel when I add: at any cost? Many things we hold precious might be a stumbling block to someone else accepting Christ. Are we really willing to give them up to make a straight path to Jesus? Paul said that for he and his companions, there was no tool that was off the table. Being whipped? Praise God for the stripes. Imprisonment? A chance to sing of the God who breaks every chain. Hunger, affliction, and slander are positively precious if the things that bring us comfort keep someone else from coming to Jesus. Indeed, he goes on to explain, appearances can be deceiving. When we seem poor by the world’s standards, we are joint-heirs with the King of Kings. Although we may not have much, the gift of the gospel makes many rich beyond all comprehension.
What would you hesitate to give up for God? Anything that comes before Him is an idol. We were made into the Temple of the Living God. He has promised to dwell within us and walk among us. How could we worship idols, when we have been prepared by blood to offer worship to the King of Kings? We cannot be yoked together with the world because we are not laboring in the same direction. The fads and pressures of the moment have to be abandoned when our eyes are on the prize. God calls us to be separate: to live differently because we are different.
The Day of Salvation is here. If you have never confessed your sin and trusted Christ as your Savior, you are not promised tomorrow. If your friends and family have not heard the message because you have been too distracted or have put too much garbage in the way, it is time to show them the path. What is it that holds us back? That is the idol that must be torn down, but the Father we gain is far greater than the slavemasters we lose.
Discussion Idea: Our reading today has been called “hymn-like.” It contains 4 lists, striking in their vivid imagery: 9 trials, 8 blessings, 3 seemingly paradoxical circumstances, and 7 contrasts between perception and reality. Carefully note the items in the list. What stands out to you as the most challenging?
Prayer Focus: Pray that God would help you to see obstacles to accepting the gospel or sharing it. Ask Him to help you tear them down and come to Him alone by faith alone.