My beloved, just as you have always obeyed, … work out your deliverance with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work among you, both to will and to work with good intent. Philippians 2:12‑13
When life is difficult because neighbors and colleagues respond negatively to our Christian lifestyle, our best response is characterized by careful courage. While our natural human tendency is to seek a quick and easy way out of difficult circumstances, we, as followers of Jesus, would be wise to assess our situation thoroughly before we take action, particularly considering how our actions might affect other disciples and the cause of the gospel. The Apostle Paul perceived his imprisonment in Rome, with all its complications, as an opportunity to further the cause of the gospel in concert with other believers. So he rejoiced! He saw opponents as gifts from God, given with a good purpose in mind. He looked forward to deliverance from their influence, but did nothing to compromise his ministry. Since God is working among us, we too must be careful to remain committed to one another and to the gospel. Since God is working among us with good intentions, we can be courageous children of God, above reproach, shining as lights in a dark world.
Risen and glorified Lord, strengthen my heart so I will hold fast to the word of life and not falter in the day of trouble. Fortify my soul; cause me to stand united with you, the Apostle and the Church. Amen.