A Positive Attitude Toward the Lord's Work

As we face a new year ahead, we look back on the previous year as one of the most difficult in recent memory. The sudden and unexpected loss of our director, Pastor Dennis Costella, as well as the general economic and political climate of our nation and the world has taken its toll physically and emotionally on those who are a part of this small ministry. Yet to focus on the trials and difficulties of the past is to forget God’s many blessings and to fail to trust that He knows best and is in complete control of all things. Certainly the apostle Paul faced incredible hardship and persecution throughout his life of service for Christ, yet we never find Paul focusing on the past and dwelling on the difficulties of life. Rather, we continually find him pressing forward in service for God and learning how to be content and rejoice in the Lord. We would do well to learn a lesson or two from this faithful servant of God.

In Philippians 1:21-26, we see the imprisoned apostle’s positive attitude toward the Lord’s work despite hardship. Paul did not give up or trim back in performing the work of God or in fulfilling His will simply because he was incarcerated. Rather, we find Paul pressing forward and focusing on the need to continue the work of the Lord with a positive attitude. He understood the priorities of ministry (vv. 21-24): 1) Christ’s will. All our service and every aspect of our lives must be marked by doing what God desires for us to do. “For me to live is Christ.” Life and ministry is all about God. 2 ) The needs of others (v. 24). Paul knew that although it would be wonderful to be with Christ, from a physical standpoint, others still needed to benefit from his ministry. He was extremely concerned about the spiritual progress of the believers in Philippi (v. 25, “furtherance” means “progress”), not just the fact that they became saved. He wanted them to mature, spiritually speaking, in Christ. 3) Himself. Rather than push his own agenda, Paul humbly sought to magnify Christ. He took himself out of the “ministry equation.” One writer has well said, “The less of self we inject into the ministry, the better off the ministry will be.”

The apostle Paul truly desired to see God’s work progress (vv. 25-26). He wanted to have joy in the furtherance of the faith and spiritual growth of the believers. He wanted, ultimately, to bring glory to God in all things as long as God gave him the opportunity to remain on the earth. Is this not our same goal? Despite hardship and heartache, should we not look back with thankful hearts for all the blessings God has showered upon us and for all the opportunities He has given us to preach the gospel, teach the Word and contend for the faith? In His grace and mercy, He has guided this ministry for well over 80 years and raised up like-minded believers to support this work with their prayers and finances. As long as God continues to do the same, may we have the same positive mindset of the apostle Paul and “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). — Matt Costella