If the Apostle Paul learned how to ignore the fools and focus on the image of Christ, how much more should we? Just after giving these critics his blessing, Paul sings the hymn to the lowliness of his King and the exaltation that is sure to follow. Paul demonstrates the value of devotion to the Lord, not devotion to the cause–and there is a difference.
From his chains in Rome, Paul gives us at least four reasons he doesn’t take the bait:
1. When we’re devoted to the cause, we can forget the King. Paul stayed focused on Jesus and cared nothing for the hypocrisy of his critics. Paul valued the Lord’s opinion over the judgment of others.
2. When we’re devoted to the cause, our agenda is determined by the opposition. In his day (and in ours), there are too many mistakes to correct–why let their errors define your message? Instead, Paul refused to allow the foolishness of others to draw him in to foolish controversy. He preached Jesus the King.
3. When we’re focused on the cause, we will embrace nearly any platform that gains attention because we come to believe the ends justify the means. Paul rejoiced in his chains because he saw an obscure entry into the very palace guard of Rome.
4. When we’re focused on the cause, we’re concerned with changing others–whether or not we have ever changed ourselves. Yet the master plan of the Master Himself was to change us from the inside out.
Like my little girl trying to avoid the school-night bedtime, we avoid the greatest obstacle to the Kingdom’s progress: ourselves–our actions, our behavior, our pursuit of Christlikeness. With each passing year in ministry, Paul trusted that Jesus was able to police the church. He traded in his badge and took up the servant’s towel. And strangely, the gospel of the Kingdom grew and spread–even without the benefit of the orthodoxy patrol.