Running the Race – #5
Philippians 1:12-17 – Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.
Philippians 1:12-17 NASB
Paul was in some pretty dire circumstances. He was in prison. He was in chains because of his preaching and following Jesus Christ. However, even during this time, he is excited to see that his circumstances have helped continue to spread the gospel. He goes through this list here of different ways that the gospel is being spread and the different types of people who are sharing the message. He recognizes that some of the people are sharing the message because of their true love of God and desire to see him preached. He also understands that some of the people are preaching with ulterior motives. Either way, Paul is excited to see that the gospel is being preached. He doesn’t need to believe or understand the motives of everyone who is preaching, but he knows that God will use the message in the hearts and the lives of the people who hear it, regardless of the intent of the people who are preaching it.
How desperately do we desire to see God’s word preached? Does that keep us up at night? Does that consume our thoughts? When we see others preaching the gospel, are we more concerned with their motives than we are with the fact that the messages being preached? Paul kept the priorities in the right place. He knew and understood that God’s word is powerful in and of itself, no matter the personal motives of the one preaching it.
God will continue to use his word and God’s Holy Spirit will allow that word to penetrate the hearts of the people that it needs to so that the message is shared and received. Are we caught up in frustrations about little things that don’t matter to God. Or, like Paul, are we simply, overwhelmingly, desperate to see God’s word and God’s truth shared with everyone?