You are choosing your chains every day through every decision you make and this is something deeper than what we can imagine.
The chains are not created overnight, but those follow a specific order and to be truly free of those chains we must know what is important because that will determine our focus on life.
According to our priority, everything else will fall in its respective order.
Choosing your chains
Let’s start by knowing the whole story to understand the context of the message.
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this, I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
— Philippians 1.12-26 NIV
This text of Paul is what is known as “Paul’s Chains Advance the Gospel” or as “Living is Christ” in Spanish and I want us to analyze a verse from the beginning and another from the end.
13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
— Philippians 1.13 NIV
Paul confirms his testimony by saying that everything that is happening (his imprisonment and torture) has the purpose of serving God, however, that does not stop him from entering into a personal dilemma.
22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
— Philippians 1.22 NIV
Sometimes when you are going through the worst situation in your life is when God is working through you.
In the case of Paul, he is old because it has been several decades since he had his first encounter with Jesus where God knocked him down so He could raise him as a new person.
It is at this advanced age that Paul no longer cares what others may think of him because he has reduced his focus to one thing and it is his purpose.
It is no longer a matter of popularity but of his calling.
18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this, I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
— Philippians 1.18 NIV
With this verse (v.18) we see that Paul no longer cares if people preach Jesus with a wrong motive, but he rejoices at the simple fact that they preach about Jesus.
The thing that matters most to you, that is your priority. For Paul, the priority is not his own popularity but sharing the message of the Messiah.
This will happen to many of us in our respective ministries because we will go through things that we will question but we should never forget our priority that is Jesus Christ.
Once a great minister of God was asked if he would change something of what has happened to him in his ministry to what he answered:
“There’s a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t choose but there’s nothing I would change because now I’ve been through enough to know that it took some of the breakings to get to the blessing and it took some of the betrayals to get to the blessing and it took some of the conflicts to get to the calling and it took some of the weakness to get to the strength. I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t choose it.”
And it is practically the same thing that Pablo tells us:
14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
— Philippians 1.14 NIV
If the important thing is that God loves you then when people don’t love you, you will continue to love you. If the important thing for you is not comfort but your calling, you may be miserable in a situation but that will not stop you because you will turn it into a ministry.
In other words, the message I want to share with you is that Jesus didn’t put these chains on us, but since we have them, we’re gonna let Jesus use them with purpose.
This is possible because Jesus knows that there is great potential in us, although it is usually the enemy who believes more in our potential than we do.
Now, you must know something very important. Even if you take a bad choice that doesn’t mean that you’re going to lose your salvation because your salvation is covered by grace. The problem is when you make a bad choice into a habit and not only that, but you start to develop that habit automatically.
It is like Paul said “I don’t do what I want and what I don’t want, that I do” and “who can deliver me from this body of death?”. This is something that Paul is saying after knowing Jesus, that is, as a follower of Jesus.
After a while, that bad choice became a habit, that habit became automatic, now it becomes our identity.
For that reason, although we are children of God there are times that we feel like slaves of sin. It’s no longer something we choose but something we are.
That is why the scriptures remind us that we have a new life and we should leave the habits of the past life. He also invites us not to walk in the flesh which is a reference to this chain that we have been building.
And the last link in this chain is our nature.
It started with a bad choice, then it was a habit, then it became automatic, we started to include it in our identity to finally establish it as part of our nature.
The process is Choice, Habit, Automatic, Identity, Nature. That is the CHAIN.
The good news is that the one whom Jesus frees from his chains will be truly free so we have the opportunity and the power to be free from those chains.
But don’t forget that the decisions you make today can become the chains of tomorrow.
Break the chain.
I hope that this message has been a great blessing in your life. If you really want to start breaking those chains that you have built in your life then do this prayer if you haven’t done it yet:
“Father, forgive me for my mistakes, I repent of my sins and I know that Jesus died on the cross so that I could live again and be able to have a real relationship with you. I also know that Jesus conquered the death and that thanks to Him I can have this new opportunity, that’s why I open my heart and I want to walk by your hand. Open my understanding to know you better, to understand more about the Holy Spirit and make better decisions.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.”
This is a new opportunity and a new life, which is not easier or harder, it is simply better.
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See you in the next post.
- Choosing your chains | Steven Furtick | 2018.07.22 | [Link]