Summary: Loving the Lord should equal sacrificial service to Him and His kingdom.
Text: Ephesians 3:1-13
By: Ken McKinley
One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed a little boy named Samuel staring up at a large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The seven year old boy had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up beside him and said quietly, “Good morning Samuel.”
“Good morning pastor,” Samuel replied still focused on the plaque, “Pastor what is this?” He asked.
“Well Sam, these are all the people from our church who have died in the service over the years.”
The little boy swallowed hard and said, “Which one, the morning service or the evening?”
For some people, sacrificial service is something that they don’t like to hear about. When it comes to giving ourselves, we usually have limits. When it comes to serving in the Body of Christ, or even dying in the service of our Lord, there isn’t a long list of people lining up to do it. In most churches it’s hard enough to get people to volunteer for the nursery. But Paul paints a picture that shows serving as the main point of Christian life.
Some people look at Paul as if he were a super-saint; others think of him as a stern, logical theologian who never showed emotion. But in our text Paul pulls back the curtain to reveal himself to his readers. In all the great doctrine found in Ephesians, in this passage Paul pauses and gets very personal.
You know; how you introduce yourself says something about you, and how you see yourself. Often times you’ll hear moms introduce themselves as, “Hi, I’m Billy’s mom.” That’s what MariJo does quite a bit; she’ll say something like, “Hi, I’m Leslie and Gabriel’s mom.” Or, “Hi, I’m the pastors wife.” But what about if she introduced herself this way, “Hi, Leslie and Gabriel are my children.” Or, “Hi, the pastor is my husband.” Would that change the way others saw her? Do you think it might imply a difference in the way she saw herself? I’m not saying that either way is wrong; I’m just saying that there is a difference. Men on the other hand, usually focus on what they do. “Hi, I’m the pastor.” Or, “Hi, I work for such and such company.”
Well what Paul does in our text is give himself an introduction, and it’s an introduction that at first might seem embarrassing. He says, “Hi, I’m Paul, the prisoner.” When Paul wrote this letter he was chained to a Roman guard 24/7. And so we see this great missionary, this apostle, the man who wrote 2/3rds of the New Testament, and established churches form Asia to Europe, is now a prisoner. But you notice that he doesn’t say that he’s a prisoner of Rome… no, he says he’s a prisoner of Jesus Christ. So in another words, Paul isn’t defining himself by his current situation or circumstance, instead he identifies himself with Christ. Paul is not basing his status in life by where he’s at physically, socially, or financially. He defines himself where he is positionally. He knows that he is under house arrest, not because he committed some crime, but because he was faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And so he says that he is a prisoner, almost as if it were an honor.
How could he do that? Well Paul knew who was running the universe. He knew that God was the sovereign Lord over all, and thus Paul knew that he was in jail for a reason. And think about it, had not Paul been in jail, would he have taken the time to write 2/3rds of the New Testament? I don’t know, but I do know that he did write a good portion of his letters while he was imprisoned, and so the imprisonment, in a sense, served as a blessing to the Christians of his day when they received his letters, and they still serve as a blessing to Christians 2000 years later.
Notice that Paul says he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ, FOR YOU GENTILES. So Paul clearly saw his imprisonment as part of God’s master plan. And you notice that Paul’s suffering was a direct result of his service to the Lord. Paul was in jail for preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles and for being faith to the Lord.
In 2nd Timothy 3:12 Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus WILL suffer persecution.”
You know, I’ve heard people say things like, “Boy I’m really suffering some persecution today. My alarm clock didn’t go off, so I got off late to work, and then I had a flat tire, and then my boss got on to me for downloading Christian songs from itunes while I was at work.” Let me tell you something, that’s not persecution. That’s forgetting to set your alarm, that’s running over a nail, and that’s getting in trouble for something that could possibly be more shameful to the Lord than glorifying. Persecution would be like this. “My alarm didn’t go off because the electric company shut off my electricity because of my faith in Christ, and then someone flattened my tires because of my strong stance for the Lord, and then when I got to work my boss fired me because I would not deny the Lord.” And like I said, the Bible tells us that if anyone desires to live godly in Christ Jesus they WILL indeed suffer it.