<It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.>
Above is the 7th verse in Philippians. It seems Paul was actively carrying His character in a way that may have challenged him to be surreptitious about his intentions. Like Abraham, Paul skillfully showed that He was able to be both honest and wise at the same time about his intentions.
Paul was imprisoned during the time he wrote that verse, most likely roughly 60 A.D. The Romans were still very much in control of their world and the Hebrews had no way out except through the freedom presented to them in Messiah, or selling out their family to the Romans. The circumstances of Paul’s imprisonment (which were most likely nothing more than a comfortable house arrest) were quite interesting: he was arrested by the Romans during a successful attempt the Romans executed to thwart the efforts of the Hebrews to kill Paul. He had been arrested for some time at the writing of this verse, and had the whole guard under the impression that he was there for the sake of Messiah. I am certain some understood he was there for Messiah in word and, to others, they had come to understand the reality of what those words really meant. Paul was placing YHVH’s salvation before those Romans who saved him from his own family of Hebrews when they tried to kill him during a worship service.
We understand that words have great significance as it tells us that <the power of the tongue sets on fire the course of nature.> Paul certainly used this power while “in chains” and we must see that Paul’s request for all of them to share in the grace God was imparting is huge. Do not misunderstand: grace points to power: God’s power.
Paul was in a situation where it would have been very easy for the evil one to slip in, attempting to unfurl all kinds of headway that The Lord and Savior had made in the life of Paul. Self pity and doubt alone could have been more than enough to turn Paul into a selfish man. He however, through the power of Messiah, stayed his course and loved the family of Messiah in a way that still touches precious saints today. Paul was teleios (greek): mature, bearing fruit.
I would like to ask a question and make a cross reference at the same time. The question is: who is Agur from Proverbs 30? The cross reference is that of fire.
“There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
- the grave
- the barren womb,
- land, which is never satisfied with water,
- and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’
Fire is set apart in this list. It seems carnally that these things are tangential; However, they are listed together in Scripture, so the truth is that they are related, and if they truly are tangential, it does not negate the fact that they are indeed related in a way that can be edifying. Three of the things are never satisfied and all four never say enough. Fire stands alone, in that it only never says enough.
What exactly does it mean to “set on fire the course of nature”? Was Paul a good example of how to set on fire the course of nature in a way that honors YHVH? If a man begins or continues to set on fire the course of nature in the way that YHVH desires, will he find persecutions? Does longsuffering produce steadfastness? Does steadfastness produce character? Does character produce hope? let’s prayerfully consider these things whilst selflessly allowing the fruits of Messiah’s spiritual labor in us to benefit Messiah’s work in other’s lives.
Let’s consider the huge sacrifices Paul made to set on fire the course of nature and touch people with His love, and contrast that with a question: Did Paul give, without expecting anything in return? Was Paul a selfless giver, sacrificing from a willing heart? Did Paul try to exercise authority over nature and over those he touched? Are you using the power in you, given by Your Creator to support Your Creator’s work? Are you relying on mercy for your unchecked recalcitrant rebellion, or your faith when it comes to your relationship with God. God will be who He will be, that is a clue as to our role in the relationship. Do as Paul did and fill up within yourself where the cross of Messiah is lacking and walk boldly in the truth of your salvation. There is no salvation without sacrifice. Do good work saints. Love will abound one day, so invest there. Halleluia