Paul never forgets that his success, no, even his ability to proclaim the gospel and be active in ministry is only and ever by the grace of God. Paul never loses his focus on Jesus Christ as the reason and purpose and value of everything he says or does.
A rabbi once wrote that every sin is a form of idolatry, as all the laws and commandments flow from the first one, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) Even though Paul is, from time to time, beaten, imprisoned and even shipwrecked, his faith in and focus on Jesus never falters.
We are not as stubbornly perfect as Paul. We falter. We might be hiding some shameful things. We are certainly tempted by idols of fame, wealth, and power-things Paul says are temptations from the god of this world to hide the light of the gospel.
Paul rises above temptations not by proclaiming himself, but by proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord. The gospel light of God’s love shines through Paul’s life and ministry. May that same light also shine in ours.
Fill our hearts with Jesus, Lord God, and crowd out our idolatry. Amen. — ML