By Stan Brown
Ephesians 3:13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.
Paul finally reaches the conclusion of his long conditional sentence that he had begun in verse two with the words if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you. In between he has discussed the great mystery by which Gentile believers and Jewish believers are brought together into one body in the church. It is indeed this great mystery that allows us to enter into that same promise; that is the grace you are saved through faith message. In all ages, Gentiles have been able through faith to enter into relationship with God but it is now that it has been made easy as we simply make the choice to place our faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Paul was writing from his place of imprisonment. It was because of his ministry to the Gentiles he had been imprisoned. He had been arrested in Jerusalem because the Jews had accused him of attempting to overthrow the Law of Moses. As a Roman citizen, he had appealed to Rome rather than be tried in Jerusalem. He asks the Ephesians not to lose heart or be discouraged because whatever tribulations he was suffering were worth it. His current imprisonment was because of his ministry of bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. It was to their glory. This glory was the glory that the Ephesians enjoyed as new creatures in Christ. Paul does not want them to lose heart because of his sufferings. Their being united together in Christ was worth it all to him. We have glory in Christ because of His sufferings and we glory in the fact that this made it possible for us to be members of His family.
Paul took eleven verses to extol the great promises which were now freely and easily made available to the Ephesians. Now he merely says not to become discouraged because he was in prison. Perhaps, because they loved Paul they were discouraged. Perhaps it was more personal in that they thought, if this can happen to Paul, it can happen to us. Whatever the reason, Paul reminds them to never become discouraged because what had happened was to their glory and it is an unimaginable glory.
So, how is this practical in our lives? Perhaps we might think of the sacrifices someone else has made that we know Jesus. But right now, it is especially practical. Although many of the things going on around us are not the results of someone else suffering because of their ministry to us, when we endure tribulation of whatever type we can shy away from discouragement because of the position that we possess in Christ. We are the dwelling place of God as individual believers. We are being built into the dwelling place of God along with other believers in the church. He has uniquely crafted us for a specific place in that building. We have an eternal hope.
Praise the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of what He has done and my reception of His grace through faith, I can walk freely and boldly into His presence at each and every moment. One day the veil will be lifted and we will see Him just as He is (1John 3:2). Let us not become discouraged but rather bask in the magnificent promises of God as we look forward to meeting on the other side.