Waking with The Word | Ephesians 3: 13-15
Ephesians 3: 13-15
13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. 14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
Todays Portion of scripture is one of the few verses that let us know that Paul is in a season of suffering. If it weren't for verses like 3:13 and a few others scattered throughout the book of Ephesians we would never know that Paul wrote this epistle while he was being held captive by the Romans. We noticed back in verse one of this same chapter that Paul didn't consider himself to be a prisoner of the Romans but rather a prisoner of Jesus Christ. That attitude toward his imprisonment is why he can tell his congregates at Ephesus not to faint at his tribulations. He even goes so far as to tell them that his suffering is their glory:
13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
We find Paul in a place where he is the one standing in need of prayer, yet he is praying for the very ones for which he is suffering. He is suffering for the gospel that he has brought and more specifically the mystery of which he has been speaking for the first twelve verses of this chapter. Read the entire chapter slowly and carefully and you will find that verse 13 is the shifting point, for twelve chapters he tells them of the mystery and grace that have been given to him to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the gentiles and at verse 13 we transition from this mystery and we move to a prayer Paul prays for these believers from verse 14 through the end of the chapter. Verse 13 is the hinge on which this transition takes place. It is because of his preaching to the gentiles that he is now currently suffering, he knows it and more importantly the believers at Ephesus know it. He addresses the elephant in the room, that he is in prison for their sakes, and tells them not to faint at his tribulations, don't fret over my current situation, don't worry yourself sick. Then he tells them that his suffering is their glory and for that cause he bows his knees in prayer and instead of requesting prayer from them he offers prayer for them.
Paul got this attitude from our Savior. When I read these verses my mind went immediately back to the garden of Gathsemane, Where Jesus was under extreme pressure, so much so that His sweat became as it were great drops of blood. John 17 tells us what was on his mind during that time of tribulation He was passing through, us, the born again, present and future. Paul is following the example of His Savior. Jesus prayed for His followers in His suffering and the very people He prayed for are the ones for which He was suffering. Jesus' suffering is our glory and we faint not at it because we understand that by it we are saved and instead of fainting at it we glory in it. Paul's situation is the same, he is suffering on the behalf of these people but they shouldn't faint at it but rather glory in the fact that is for their salvation and betterment. God thought enough of these people to allow His servant to suffer so that they could hear the Gospel.
There is a lesson here for pastors, preachers, missionaries and leaders in the church. God may allow you to suffer on the behalf of other people. You may pass through trials for the ministry that you have to the people God has called you to. I've spoken to many Pastors, preachers, missionaries and other leaders and they have all, at one point, said that the biggest hurts and trials they have passed through have been directly connected to the ministry God has called them into. This is a theme you find throughout the Bible. Joseph's suffering brought about the salvation of his brethren. The Three Hebrew boys were tossed into the fiery furnace so that Nebuchadnezzar could see the Son of God. Moses Chose rather to suffer affliction with the children of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Christ suffered and more greatly that all the example we could imagine combined, so that you and I could be saved from wrath. Now we as ministers shouldn't imagine that we will escape this same fate. I may never be locked up for my ministry to the people God called me to or killed but I can be sure that there will come times of tribulation and trial in the ministry. Our attitude toward this should be like that of Paul and of Jesus. Not requesting prayer from the people for which we suffer but offering prayer for them. It is very easy to become frustrated, perplexed and confounded with the people we minister to but Jesus and Paul have set for us a great example of prayerfulness and selflessness. Paul put them at rest and offered prayer for the very ones he was suffering for, how humbling. God help me to be a faithful servant!
According to the riches of His Grace!!