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January 2, 2008

When you feel like you are being benched by God

by Dave Malnes

There must have been times when the Apostle Paul asked, “So, Lord, remind me again. Why am I here in prison? Why am I not out in the world sharing the message of Christ with others?” He must have felt that he was benched by the Coach – his gifts and talents forgotten. It would have been easy to pout, be frustrated and give up. But this was not the case with Paul. He remembered his time of preparation in the desert (Gal. 1:17-18) before embarking on his work for the Lord. He knew there would be times of trial, difficulties, even suffering. 

Even though imprisoned, Paul’s heart-attitude was one of thankfulness and a confidence that his time and his talents were not being wasted. Paul used his time to write letters of encouragement and instruction to churches he started – including the church in Philippi. 

“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.  God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:7-8) 

Can you see the affection Paul has for the church? Like a father whose children have all grown up, Paul expresses affection to those whose faith was birthed in Philippi. My four children are growing up. As a father, I will want to express my affection and encourage them to grow and mature in the faith. What joy there will be to see my children become strong Christian adults and active in a church. We see these same feelings from Paul toward the Christians in Philippi. 

Notice Paul compares his affection to that of Jesus Christ. The gospels regularly reveal Jesus’ affection for all people who came in contact with him. The Greek word used in the Bible for affection surprisingly means “bowels” or “inward parts.” This may not sound particularly attractive, but this was a common term used to express feelings from within the deepest part of a person’s emotions. According to the Greeks, our inwards parts contain all of our emotions. So, Paul is saying, “I care for you from my deepest bowels.” I think my children would die of embarrassment if I ever expressed my affections this way in public.

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