“As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.” (Proverbs 27:21)
God chose to reveal to us much more about the attitude of the Apostle Paul than the miracles wrought through him. Paul was so committed to His Lord and His cause that he could rejoice whenever and wherever Christ was preached, even when those preaching sought to “add affliction” to his bonds. (Philippians 1:15-18)
The proud Pharisee from Tarsus once fashioned himself to be a spiritual bigwig, on the road to making a name for himself in the highest circles. But after Jesus brought his religious adventurism to a screeching halt on the road to Damascus, the chastened zealot changed his name from Saul to Paul, which means “little.” He was no longer interested in being great in the eyes of men. He no longer itched to have anyone celebrate him and his doings. The sole aim and consuming focus of his life was to see Christ and His Name magnified.
What Paul teaches us is that when Christ truly owns first place in our lives the need to strive with our fellow man ceases. The competition ends. Jesus is the Winner. Our one desire is to see men “kiss the Son” and celebrate what HE has done.
Paul’s heart was tested while he was shackled in prison. The Father tests our hearts, especially when “bonds and afflictions” are appointed to us and others run free doing “big” things. Will we rejoice that in every way Christ is being preached? Will we stay faithful to His call upon our life, however little it seems in the eyes of others? Will we even rejoice when we are reviled for being a “Dr. Do Little” or a “Mr. Do Nothing”? God would prove our hearts to determine whether we are living for the honor of men or the glory of His Son.
Your “prison,” where in the eyes of others you’re doing “nothing” great in the kingdom, may be the confines of your home where you are chained to dishes, diapers, and the demands of the day. It may be a job with little recognition or reward from men, where you feel stifled, insignificant, and unfulfilled. But God does His greatest work in those places where we are most humbled, where we learn to treasure His praise above the praise of men.
Every Saul must become a Paul. Being faithful in the eyes of God matters so much more than being great in the eyes of men.