“Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.”
Php 1:21 TM
Roman prisons were terrible places. Offenders were stripped, flogged, and placed in leg irons. Their blood-soaked clothing wasn’t changed even in the dead of winter. And the “inner cell” (Ac 16:24 NIV) where Paul and Silas were imprisoned was the worst. Lack of water, cramped conditions, and the stench of toilets (if that’s what you could call them) made sleep impossible. Prisoners routinely begged for death, and some even committed suicide. It was your worst nightmare! Yet “Paul and Silas were…singing…and the other prisoners were listening” (v. 25 NIV). In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases it like this: “The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears.” Talk about impact! Paul’s attitude impressed them before his religious beliefs ever reached them. Let’s face it, anybody can sing in church, including hypocrites. But when you can praise God in the midst of pain, pressures, and problems—that’s something else. How did they do it? They had a faith perspective! It’s not what you have lost, but what you have left that counts! Paul didn’t just sing in prison, he wrote some of his best stuff there. Here’s his take on it: “Everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose” (Php 1:19-21 TM). What are you going to do with a man or woman like this? They’re beyond your threats. Their strength comes from a source that’s not diminished by outside circumstances. That’s because they have a faith perspective. And that’s what you need today too!