This week I have been studying the letter of Philippians. It is Thursday and I am not yet finished with chapter one…Paul’s words have been tearing me up!
Yesterday I posted a passage, verses 15-18, in which Paul rejoices in the midst of suffering. But as I read over those verses again, something challenged me that I missed on first read. Here are Paul’s words again:
“15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” [TNIV]
Paul is in prison, and some people are actually telling others about Christ with the end goal being stirring up trouble for Paul while in prison. And Paul’s response? What does it matter their motivations? Why should I care if they are telling the truth about Jesus with a pure or impure motive? The point is that those who had not encountered Christ are now hearing about him!
I read one commentary that put it like this: “…so here Paul rejoices that despite his imprisonment and the personal animosity of some fellow Christians, the gospel is being preached. Ultimately, for Paul, this is all that matters.” [The NIV Application Commentary: Philippians by Frank Thielman]
These words hit me like a ton of bricks. How often am I more focused on being cool, popular, well liked, or just being “a nice guy.” How often is my own comfort, advancement, and success the ultimate thing for me?
To be honest, I am not at the point where I can say…”But what does it matter? The gospel is being shared. Lives are being transformed. That’s what matters!”
But I want to be there.
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Paul in Acts 20.24 [TNIV]
How do these words land in your life?