Daily Devotionals: (March 7th): The Freedom to Serve

by Aaron Dunlop

Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History

Reading: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

When Patrick was a boy of sixteen, a band of Irish marauders invaded his village and took him captive. He says, “I was taken into captivity in Ireland with so many thousands” (Confession, sec. 1). During this captivity, he was converted to Christ. After being in captivity for about six years, he escaped and returned home. Patrick writes of a second time of captivity: “And after many years I was once again taken captive. And so on that first night I stayed with my captors” (Confession, sec. 21).

One would think that Patrick had seen enough of Ireland and the Irish—his parents certainly thought so for, he says, on his return “they welcomed me as a son and asked me earnestly not to go off anywhere and leave them this time, after the great tribulations which I had been through” (Confession, sec. 21).

The irony of Patrick’s life is that while he was in physical slavery he found spiritual liberation. The cruel treatment of his captors did not embitter him, but liberated him to serve, and to serve conscientiously in spite of continued opposition. He writes in his letter to Coroticus, “I am resented…. I am despised” (Letter, sec. 11).

Have you ever felt resented or despised in the work of the Lord? Have you felt like giving in, as others have done, because of indifference to your labours? Learn from this great saint who, in spite of physical and emotional captivity and opposition, felt a wonderful liberty in serving Christ. Learn furthermore where he got this spiritual liberty. He says, “It is not my grace but God who laid this responsibility in my heart” (Letter, sec. 11). Think of the work of God in the context of Matthew 5:44: Christ tells us to love, to bless, to do good, and to pray for our enemies.” This is freedom to serve!

“Be lowly. Be humble. The best man in the church is the man who is willing to be a doormat for all to wipe their boots on, the brother who does not mind what happens to him at all, so long as God is glorified.”—C. H. Spurgeon

All quotations from the Confession or Letter of Patrick are taken from the edition by A. B. E. Hood, 1978.

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