“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9 ESV)
Paul wrote that he was “the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle. . . .” His basis for that statement was that he “persecuted the Church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:9 ESV) Despite his renegade start as a persecutor of Christians, Paul went on to found many churches, mentor pastors and evangelists, and teach Jewish believers in Y’shuaJesus to accept Gentile believers as one of them. He wrote much of what we call the New Testament as letters to various churches. And we accept his authority to write: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the G-d of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9 ESV).
When we practice all that we see in Paul’s life, we will certainly receive the crowns of rewards from Messiah after we leave Earth. But there remains a question about victory today, now, while we live and walk and journey with Messiah. Will practicing what we see in Paul yield victory? We must decide if Paul was truly victorious in his Earthly life. We must decide for ourselves if imitating Paul will bring us victory today.
After all, wasn’t Paul stoned a time or two? Wasn’t he ill to the point of begging deliverance from G-d for it? This illness persisted and was not removed during his lifetime. Paul was arrested, tried, and imprisoned. Paul, himself, admits to problems he faced. “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV) Can we seriously consider imitating what appears to be such a non-victorious life? Or is our impression of victory in this life skewed by a certain world view of life?
There is a world view that says we are only to be content in leisure time when we relax, perhaps in the shade of a tree with a cool drink in our hands. This world view says we are content when we have plenty of choice food and dwell in luxury housing. This world view says we have peace only in specific circumstances and situations. In this world view we are not suppose to be content, not suppose to find peace, in any difficult situation, any perilous circumstance.
Look again at what Paul said about contentment. He is content, he has peace, in circumstances and situations not conducive to such. Either there is a contradiction here or the world view illustrated is wrong. I vote that this world view is wrong.
Briefly, let’s look at a few more points in imitating the victory of the Apostle Paul. We must remember that we live in this world, but are not of it. Therefore, like those how do not believe, that do not follow Messiah Y’shuaJesus, we will experience trials and hardships of various types. Y’shuaJesus tells us about this in one of his parables. “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” Y’shuaJesus says we’ll experience floods that break against our lives. (Luke 6:47-48 ESV)
Perhaps our imitation of Paul is imitating how he came to Y’shuaJesus, heard Him, and followed Him, building a foundation of victory enabling him to express his contentment during his weakness, hardships, and distress. Perhaps when Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus, he forever lost his world view, and when sight returned, all he saw the way of the Spirit of Y’shuaJesus.
Our victory lies not in the ways in which the world sees victory, but in the Lord Y’shuaJesus. Our peace is not found in circumstances and situations of this life on Earth, as a certain world view tells us, but despite them. It is the Peace that passes understanding that fills our souls, our being, yielding our victory—today and tomorrow.
Lord Y’shua grant us understanding of true victory in this life and insight into the victory we have with You forever. Bless, Keep, and Shine upon us today, and always. AMEN