Paul clearly began this list in verse 4 as a list of his troubles. However, he does not end the list there. Somewhere it becomes a list of the ways by which he served God. As Paul served God in his troubles, so Paul served God in many other ways too.
Perhaps we can see the beginning of this change in Paulís list when we read verse 5. Clearly, his time in prison, and the cruel attacks against him, are troubles.
However, then he speaks about hard work. Paul was pleased that, because of his hard work*, he could afford to declare Godís message freely*.
Paul then says that he often had to stay awake by night. Sometimes that was because of his troubles - but he could still use the time to pray or to praise God*.
Then Paul refers to the many times that he did not eat. Often he would have had little or no food because of his enemiesí actions, or because of his circumstances*. However, often he would have chosen not to eat during his special times of prayer.
By the start of verse 6, Paul is clearly describing the attitudes with which he served God. He behaved in a pure (sincere) manner. He used his wisdom and knowledge. His enemies behaved with great cruelty towards him, but even in these troubles, Paul chose to be patient. Paul could have been angry against them, but instead he chose to show kindness. The Holy Spirit was active in Paulís life. (However, Paul may mean that his own spirit was holy. That is, Paul gave himself wholly to God). In all his troubles, God helped Paul to show genuine love, as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
Clearly, Paul had a very strong and firm character. However, he also considered it important for a Christian leader to be kind and gentle. So, Paul tried to help even the weakest people*. He did not fight back when his enemies attacked him. He urged younger Christian leaders to learn from the patience and love that he showed*.
Paul did not depend on his own qualities or strength to deal with his troubles, or to serve God. Paul considered himself weak, but he knew the power of Christ*. Paulís good qualities and right attitudes came not from himself, but from the Holy Spirit*.
* See complete article for these Bible references.
To download all our articles, including our 700+ page book in PDF format, please go to our download page.
© 2016, Keith Simons.