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Successful Christiansby Duane Mabee on March 2, 2022
A noted Biblical scholar was asked, “What made the Apostle Paul so successful in his ministry”? He thought for a moment and replied, “He had a lot of friends”.
It’s true. Paul lists a lot of friends by name in his New Testament letters. He cared for them deeply. He prayed for them constantly. He checked on their welfare. He encouraged them and challenged them to go to higher levels. He visited them and asked them to come to him. He commended them to other people and voiced his thankfulness for them. He trusted them and gave them significant and meaningful ways to be involved. Paul was so gifted he could have been a one-man-show, but that never seemed to cross his mind.
Paul was a living example of the one-another commands. Love one another. Be kind to one another. Encourage one another. He wasn’t always easy to deal with, you can see that at times in the New Testament, but he reconciled with those he got crossways with – when reconciliation was possible.
Paul is a good example of how we should work together. He shows us how to survive in a world that is hostile to us and our message. Paul didn’t go into hiding. He didn’t water down his message or adjust it to quiet his critics. He communicated the gospel with boldness and love. And he built deep, unified relationships with other believers, and worked with them for the cause of Christ.
Did all of Paul’s friendships work out well? Absolutely not. Paul is open about the relational pain he experienced, but he never stopped loving people and building relationships of trust. And that, as the Biblical scholar pointed out, is one of the most significant contributors to his success in spreading the gospel and advancing Christ’s kingdom. Building and nurturing relationships like Paul did is also key to our effectiveness in Christ’s kingdom.
Paul told us how to build relationship like his in Philippians 2:2-8. “…complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” (ESV).