Philippians 1:14 (ESV) And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 16. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19. for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20. as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
…14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear…
You will observe here that I will start and finish on the same point, “Your best sermons are quite often not spoken” Let me give you a scenario that was in a sermon I listened to.
A family sits down to dinner, the father gives a beautiful prayer, thanking the LORD for another day to serve him, for his beautiful wife, for his awesome kids, for the raise he just received and for the continuing provisions to provide such a wonderful meal, he thanks Jesus and says Amen.
He then asks his five year old to pass the ranch dressing, the five year old is like any other five year old and is super clumsy and knocks over his glass of water, the father proceeds to flip out at him as he the water crashes all over the table as he finishes passing the dressing to him.
Which sermon will those kids remember?
Paul remarks that the Philippian believers see what is at stake with Paul’s suffering, and it is encouraging that rather than shying away from the very words that could spell their doom, they are becoming more bold. They are living out the great commission in Matthew 28.
That hurts from my point of view, I am not under pain of death and I struggle to do this on a daily basis. I should be as I have the testimony of Paul and see the genuine joy that Paul had in his trials, the faith that Paul had that regardless what happened God would take care of him, either by deliverance or death and lastly, that Paul was almost as effective in prison as he was when he was making tents. I wish I was more Philippian in this case.
Preach with good will & Don’t be selfish
…15. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 16. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel 17. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment…
This is as relevant today as it was when the ink was still dry on the paper. When we get involved in ministry it has the capability of being something that can harm us. We may place the ministry itself above what it is supposed to be and we can make it an idol and have this instead of investing in time with God.
It is hard as the human nature in us wants to see “tangible results” whether its people through the door, lives changed are we doing more than the place down the road, or whatever barometer we measure success by. By doing so we can not leave ourselves as ready to deal with the open doors that God is placing in our lives. We can get self important and prideful. We can see the place down the road as a rival and not a “co-laborer in Christ”.
It does make me wonder, if they are approaching it with a heart of rivalry, were they happy Paul was out of the picture? Did they see it as their time in the sun? Strikes me as a question that could be the case, the heart is a wicked thing and sometimes if we allow ourselves to be puffed up we start seeing it as our ministry rather than Gods. You have to look at the sincerity of the person’s heart when they serve?
Not all were like that though and some preached with “good will” let me be that guy, let me not feel entitled, cut me down if I get to big for my boots! It may seem ironic that I am typing this on the World Wide Web for others to see, but I will be honest with you, it is not about me bringing this to you. If you knew me you would understand. I am Mr. Foot in mouth guy! I am rarely understood when I speak to people, so this is a happy medium to get out what the LORD is putting on my heart. I am not much of a writer and my punctuation could be a million times better, but I am hoping that you see through that and take the points I am making.
Ambition is okay as long as it is pure hearted. We can’t be all about one eye on how we look as well as how we present the LORDS precious word. We cannot be selfish. I see this in today’s Christianity in the form of denominationalism; we have our wee camps that we will covertly have our wee digs (or criticisms) at. We can’t want our fellow brothers in Christ to lose or to “go down” We have to pray for those who have the same mission as us, even if we have minor theological disagreements. God doesn’t have a huge scoreboard and we are not a “good and faithful servant” based on results of souls saved or numbers through the door.
We should be more like Paul and not really care who brings souls into heaven, I don’t know this for certain but I doubt there will be a “Methodist only”, “Lutheran only”, “Catholic only”, “Presbyterian only” sections in heaven. We will be too busy giving God glory to worry about little things like that.
Word never returns void
…18. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,…
This is how I know that Paul was not into rivalry, he was on point always, to get the gospel out with a remarkable urgency. That was what he rejoiced in, it is what made him happy, he was truly devoted. He knew that God would judge the hearts of the ones in error. He rejoiced for two reasons:
1 – They were motivated to preach the gospel
2 – They were advancing the kingdom and Christ was being proclaimed
Which brings us to “the word never returns void” If I am digging my yard I can still use a tool with a slight imperfection. I will still get the job done! They were still presenting a true gospel, (because I believe Paul would have said so had they not!) In some cases, they just did not have their heart right.
How sold out are we?
…19. for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20. as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…
Man, after reading and writing this I am pierced by my own personal failings, perhaps I am too hard on myself but I like to be brutally honest and say I don’t like trials, I don’t like to be tested. I certainly wouldn’t like jail and I do wonder what I would be like if I was in Paul’s shoes?
I would love to say that I would take it on the chin and not be a Jonah But I fear that I would be a big whiner! Perhaps what I need is a little persecution to rid me of some of the stuff that stops me from being as effective. (That is not an invite)
Paul is quite content not to be delivered from this deal, we see in Acts 16:11-40, Paul was delivered from a temporary jailing for preaching the word, he was thrown in jail and God used this jail time to bring the gospel face to face to the Philippian jailer and his family.
That’s how I would like to wrap this bible study up, we have to sometimes see the bigger picture. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) Perhaps a temporary trial that we face maybe what saves someone from a life of sin and allows them to see a work of God in your life. let me reassure you that often times our strongest sermons aren’t spoken. They are the example that we show to that fallen person. We don’t always get it right. We have to allow God to work in our lives (sometimes without interference) and sometimes that is the hardest part of obedience.
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God bless and TGBTG