Today’s verse gives us a practical example of how to work out our salvation, or more commonly, how we should make decisions in our life. Paul is writing to the church in Corinth from Ephesus and at the end of his letter he relates that he plans to stay in Ephesus for some time. He also gives us the reason for that decision…that a wide door for effective work had opened for him. This was Paul’s second visit to Ephesus. His first visit was short and he promised to return only “…if God wills.” (Acts 18:19-21) For Paul, the first step in making any important decision was to seek God’s will. Evidently, it was God’s will because we find Paul in Ephesus again in Acts 19.
After establishing that God wanted him to return to Ephesus, Paul makes the decision to extend his stay because of his circumstances. It shows us that Paul was aware of his circumstances and took them into account as he made decisions. However, God’s will was primary for Paul, and circumstances were secondary.
Here, the circumstance that attracted Paul’s attention was the open door for effective work. There was an open door for the Gospel in Ephesus, but Paul also sensed that his work there would be more effective than in other cities he had visited. Paul evaluated his circumstances in two ways…whether there was an openness to the Gospel, and secondly whether he could effectively make use of that openness.
One piece of circumstantial evidence that Paul didn’t allow to sway him was the presence of adversity. In this verse he specifically mentions that there are many adversaries, but in spite of that, or perhaps because of that, he has decided to remain in Ephesus.
As physicians finish their postgraduate training, they are faced with many decisions regarding their next step. Christian physicians should follow the example of Paul by first actively seeking God’s will, and second, evaluating the circumstances regarding the potential for effective ministry.
Prayer- Lord, as I face important decisions in my life, clearly show me your will and help me evaluate the circumstances so that I can live a life that is pleasing to you.