The Limitations of Life

W. Terry Varner
February 24, 2013

Often the close of the New Testament letters are ignored, but they often reveal some very thoughtful concepts and statements. Paul, and other Christians, were frequently bound in prison “for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 1:9). This was Paul’s lot when he penned his letter to the Christians in Colossae, “Remember me in my bonds” (Col. 4:18).

It would be natural for Paul’s bonds to hinder his work, even his writing, but if his friends remembered that he was bound, they would understand and realize he was not free to do as he would like.

There are none among us who do not have bonds of some sort. We, as Paul, need encouragement. Sometimes we reason that we could have done better IF it had not been for some unavoidable and/or disturbing matter that hindered us. All of us have bonds: the businessman is bound by his work; professional man is bound by his appointments; the invalid is bound by his sickness; the mother is bound by her housework; the poor are bound by their poverty; the student is bound by his studies, etc. Consider Paul’s bonds and think apply.

His bonds were no disgrace to him. Paul was not imprisoned because he had done wrong; but because he would not to that which he knew was wrong: “But let none of you suffer as a murdered, or as a thief, or an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:15-16).

Paul’s prison chains were symbols of Christian principles. It was his duty as a Christian to suffer for Christ and do so without being ashamed. Instead his Christianity served as support and solace to him in his trials.

Just so, our bonds, unless brought on by our wrong-doing, are no disgrace to us. They are our lot and with patience we bear them (James 1:3-4).

His bonds did not prevent him from being useful to God. Surely Paul was saddened by the fact that being in prison prevented him from doing other things for Christ, but saw his imprisonment as a bond (hindrance, burden) as an advantage. In prison, Paul preached to the Philippian jailor (Acts 16), Felix, Festus, and Agrippa (Acts 23, 24, 25).

The Christian should remember that the Lord can make all things work together for good, IF we will only do our best. “And we know that all things [from the beginning of the Christian life to the end] work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28). Someone wrote the following:

Not in dumb resignation
We left our hands on high
Not like the nerveless fatalist,
Content to trust and die.
Our faith springs like the eagle,
Who soars to meet the sun
And cries exulting unto Thee,
“O Lord, thy will be done.”

His bonds did not lessen his reward. Your and my responsibility is measured by our ability plus our opportunity. “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man has, and not according to that he has not” (2 Cor. 8:12).

So often we connect reward with activity; but Christ connects reward with faithfulness—with godly character. If we do our best within our limitations, that is all the lord requires of us. Consequently, our reward will be far beyond our ability to ask or think.

The reality of daily life says the Christian in some way is bound by the chain of the Redeemer as we represent Him on earth. We must wear the chain meekly and bravely as did the apostles and early Christians, many of whom suffered martyrdom for Christ. Meditate on the cross on which Jesus died and allow it to motivate us to bear anything in life with joy.