13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.
Yep, just one verse today! As I was reading today, I kinda “glossed over” this one at first. It was because I didn’t understand it right away, so I skimmed over it. I don’t think it would be there in the first place if we were supposed to just skim over it. It caused me to pause and read it again and again.
First of all, let’s look at why Paul says not to lose heart at his tribulations. We see in the book of James that we should have joy when we face trials of many kinds. Why is this? It’s because 1) it is a sign that what we are doing is right in God’s eyes because the enemy is warring against us. 2) it builds our character and faith through perseverance.
I think we can appreciate that others feel bad that Paul is afflicted because of what he does or has done for the church at Ephesus. This letter was written from prison. In other words, he is saying “don’t feel sorry for me.” On the surface, this seems like one of those heroic statements that may be said in a war movie. Well, essentially this is a war story, but that’s beside the point. We can understand why people would feel bad, since his imprisonment is a direct result of his mission to spread the gospel. Not to mention, as he stated before, this is God’s will, God’s purpose that he is following. It is not like Paul has done this out of the “kindness of his heart” but more so, he does it because it is his calling.
The phrase for they are your glory is what intrigued me the most about this verse. What in the world is it supposed to mean? With a quick search we can find many definitions of the word glory. Usually, at least in a biblical reference, we only talk about glory under one definition: giving glory to God. Dictinary.com defines glory as a high honor. In other translations of this verse, it appears to convey a message that they should feel honored that Paul is suffering as a result of preaching the Gospel. I think at this point, we should be cautious however, about who Paul is saying they should be honored by.
At first glance, we might think that Paul is insinuating they should feel honored by him. However, in studying Paul, his motivations, and his exultation of Christ, I think it is more fitting to understand that Paul here is talking about feeling honored by God. We will see tomorrow that Paul continues this thought by exemplifying praise to God.
In recognizing God’s ultimate power and control over all things, I think it is only prudent that we feel honored that He would choose us, those of us that believe, to carry out His work on earth. He’s rescued us from this world, from ourselves, and has given us a Holy Purpose. Maybe some of us haven’t sought out yet what that purpose is, we just know we are chosen by Him. I think sometimes we are afraid to find out what exactly it is He is calling us to, because it will ruin our “perfect little world” of ignorance and complacency. It’s easy to stay where we are, it’s difficult to get up and move. Yet isn’t that how our society has become? We don’t even like to get up and walk around anymore, yet we go to a gym to walk on a treadmill so we can stay in one place. How silly is that?
Why are we trying to stay in one place, in an old place, in the place God has called us out of? Let’s get up and move! God has honored us by choosing us to fulfill His purpose. Why do we hesitate to act in a way that honors Him back, in a way worthy of our calling?