Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ephesians 3:13

So I ask you not to lose heart over my afflictions for you; this is your glory (Ephesians 3:13).

As we read through chapter three it might be easy to gloss past verse 13 and not grasp its importance -- or its power.

Glossing past it would be easy because verse 13 refers all the way back to verse 1 in which the apostle tells his readers he is a prisoner -- literally -- for their sakes; And that he is willing to be in chains for them because God had given him opportunity to tell them what he calls the mystery and riches of Christ (verses 4 and 8) -- that is: Gentiles are “fellow-heirs and fellow-members of the body [of Christ], and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus” (verse 6).

The Creator of everything seen and unseen had extended His mercy, passion and promises not only toward Israel, but to them as well.

This was no small thing in the apostle’s mind. Nor should it be in ours.

When we study St. Paul's life we learn what drove him. He had grasped the secret of a life sold-out for Christ. He considered no calling, no purpose, no reward greater – regardless of personal cost -- than to bring to others the unsurpassable message of hope, forgiveness, and eternal life in – and only in – Jesus Christ. Indeed, St. Paul considered that message more important than his freedom or comfort . . . . more even than his own self-preservation.

No wonder he encouraged the church at Ephesus to not be discouraged about his afflictions for their sakes. He considered it a privilege to be expended and spent for their sakes and the gospel.

Questions for Reflection:

1. St. Paul did "all things for the sake of the gospel." Compare this comment from his first letter to the Corinthians with the Lord Jesus' words here. What message ties these two passages together?

2. How might you ask God to help you journey in the direction where you are willing, as St. Paul, to be expended and spent for others and the gospel?

3. Explain how frequent reception of the Sacraments (especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation), Scripture study and supplication will determine the speed at which any of us arrive at number 2?

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