Circumstances have a very powerful effect on the Christian’s life. Happy circumstances can make us lazy, indifferent, proud, complacent, etc. Harsh circumstances often leave us skeptical, bitter, and cold. In short, without the grace of God success is as dangerous as suffering loss. Whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in—either bitter or sweet—we need to pray that the Lord would redeem them “for the advance of the gospel.”
It is interesting that the apostle inserts the adverb rather when speaking of his imprisonment in Rome. He implies that the more probable result has been reversed: contrary to all appearances or expectations, these circumstances have actually advanced the gospel. The Lord has redeemed the hostility of the world and caused the wrath of man to praise him (Psalm 76:10).
How extensive is your theology of redemption? You believe that your soul was redeemed from the slavery of Satan in justification (Romans 3:24). You believe also and hope for the day when your body will be redeemed from the curse of the fall in glorification (Romans 8:23). But do you believe that in the interim between your justification and glorification—in your life—the Lord can redeem the circumstances of your life for His glory? Do you believe that by the grace of God (that is sufficient, 2 Corinthians 12:9) the things that happen to you can fall out “rather for the furtherance of the gospel”? In the redeemed life the trials of life become triumphs of the gospel in the soul.
Reading: “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.”—Philippians 1:12