Summary: The maturity of a person can be seen by how well he/she handles the things that happen to them. The one thing that a believer must do is to learn to live above circumstances--to keep our witness for Christ strong and mature.

Have you ever noticed how circumstances often throw people to the ground?

The maturity of a person can be seen by how well he/she handles the things that happen to them.

The one thing that a believer must do is to learn to live above circumstances--to keep our witness for Christ strong and mature.

Have you ever heard that circumstances make the person?

In other words we are what we are based on our environment. Circumstances do not make the person. However, circumstances will reveal the real me/you. Discuss the person who is mild mannered until they get drunk. His family may say that the booze or the drugs made him that way. They will say: “That’s just not Joe. He is such a kind man but the booze made him that way.” Not true; the booze brought the real Joe to the surface…

Today I want to continue in the book of Philippians and discover just a few of the marks of a mature witness.

1. Look at verses12-14 A mature witness shares the gospel regardless of circumstances.

Let me show you two significant points.

1. Paul faced terrible circumstances, being a prisoner in Rome.

Paul was waiting to appear before the Supreme Court of Rome: he was facing a trial before the Roman Emperor, and he had done nothing wrong. He was having to wait the arrival of his Jewish prosecutors with their trumped-up and malicious charges.

True, he had some privileges but he was imprisoned for over two years.

Listen; even with the pressure hanging over his head, awaiting a trial that was to determine whether he live or die, Paul held his head high.

But notice something here about Paul...

a. He did not grumble and complain

b. He did not question God and wonder why

c. He did not whine and murmur

d. He did not fall to pieces

e. He did not curse God nor give up his faith

What did Paul with these terrible circumstances?

2. Paul used his terrible circumstances to spread the gospel.

Paul did not see himself as a prisoner of Rome nor of Nero. He saw himself as a prisoner for Jesus Christ. He did not see himself as a victim; he saw himself as a conqueror for Jesus Christ.

In Acts 28:20 Paul says “For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain."” and in

Eph.6:20 he calls himself an "ambassador in chains." “for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

The word for chains as used here was a small length of chain that bound a prisoner to the wrist of a guard to prevent his escape.

Think about this; Paul was bound to a Roman guard 24 hours day for over 730 days or over two years.

We might look at the bad side of this and say: “Man! I can‘t believe that he had to strapped to a guard 24/7. What a bummer.”

Paul looked at it as a blessing. What do you think Paul talked about with the guards…ALL DAY LONG? Well he tells us in verse 12. Look at it with me. "

Paul spread the gospel through the Palace Guard, the elite of the Roman army, which was his captive audience.

These soldiers were the Imperial Guard of Rome, men who had been hand-picked to protect the emperor and to carry out the major armed functions of the state.

There were sixteen thousand of them, most of whom were stationed in Rome at any given time (Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, p.26).

It was these soldiers who guarded and were chained to the wrist of Paul day and night for over two years. Young men who were the elite of Roman youth.

How many Paul led to the Lord is unknown. But what we do know is that Christ was shared so much that the gospel spread throughout... the whole Palace guard… the palace of the emperor… and all other places.

Paul, his imprisonment, his stand for Christ and the gospel which he preached--became the topic of every

conversation throughout Rome, the conversation among all the social circles including, the very palace of the emperor himself.

**lesson for us is this: Never let circumstances get you down--never let them defeat your testimony and witness for Christ, no matter what they are...

Some accident…sin…failure…loss of a loved one…financial lose…rejection…not even divorce

If we are living for Christ, we must understand that God is in control of our lives. He will strengthen us to bear whatever circumstances fall upon us. We must use the circumstances to witness to the saving power of Christ.

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