Paul, the Optimist

Michael Beck

“Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4)

We can get very down on people. How do they fall so short of who they should be and what they should do? We lose hope they will ever change. We don’t trust them. Should we help others by “believing” in them? Is that what people need to succeed?

God has faith in no man. His faith is in Himself. He is no flatterer, telling people they can do whatever they believe they can do. He has appointed to men a Savior, through whom they can do all He wants them to do. To whom Jesus is Lord, He is also the Power of God to stand complete in all the will of God. Those who “worship God in the spirit … rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3)

Paul does not advocate confidence in any man’s natural ability to do right. He says of himself: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18) His expectation of any goodness in himself and others is in Christ alone. Only when God dwells within us through the new birth do we have the potential to know and do the will of God.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

Paul possessed a divine soberness when it came to human beings. Concerning the natural ability of man to maintain a life of righteousness he was a pessimist. But he boldly proclaimed and confidently believed that man was on a completely different footing once he was in Christ Jesus. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17) Even when a “new creature” in Christ was struggling and falling short, Paul remained an optimist. The mighty God of every born again saint is able to make him stand!

Don’t put your trust in any person. But if they are in Christ, put your trust in the One who lives within them. Be an optimist!

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.