Christ is Preached
12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in 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.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. NIV
Paul is in chains for Christ. He knows it and everyone around him knows it. His imprisonment has brought about something good. Christ is being talked about. Paul rejoices because of this. People in Ceasar's palace are hearing the truth about Jesus. This is what thrills Paul's soul!
Not everyone who is proclaiming Christ has pure motives. Some are preaching for their own advancement and glory. They preach Christ, as Paul says, out of envy and rivalry. In verse 17 he clarifies that, they preach out of selfish ambition. They are not seeking to glorify God as are the others who are preaching from honest, pure motivation.
It has always been so. There are those who are preaching for what they can get out of it, not because they love God and have been called to fulfill His purpose. They see it as an easy career. I am not sure how they came to that conclusion. Fulfilling, yes. Easy, NO!
But perhaps they are more naturally gifted than I and they can do what they need to do to satisfy a church and keep things running in their own strength and ability.
I, on the other hand, need the help of God and the prayers of His people to keep me going and doing what I need to do to fulfill His purpose for me. I appreciated Jim's comments to that effect last Wednesday evening. Please pray for your pastor.
Paul was happy that Christ was being preached whether honestly or for ulterior motives. Paul expresses his need for the prayers of the church at Philippi. He sees the need to have God's Spirit lead and direct him as he continues to serve even while he is a prisoner in Ceasar's palace.
He wants to glorify God no matter what the circumstances of his life. “Whether by life or by death” is how he put it. He wants his life to glorify the Father above. His desire is that Christ would be exalted. Exalted – that means lifted up and praised. This is his purpose for living. Since his conversion on the road to Damascus his life has been focused on preaching Christ and encouraging others to do the same.
In these first few lines of Paul's letter to the church at Philippi, he has mentioned joy 3 times. His joy is not about his comfort and the happiness that we often seek in this world. His joy is about the growth of the church, the maturing of the church, and the spread of the good news that enlarges the church.
Paul's joy is not due to his circumstances.
Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns about midnight one time. They were not in church in a heated and air conditioned building. They were not at home sitting in comfortable chairs watching a Gaither Special on TV. They were not at Winter Jam rocking out for Jesus.
They were in prison because they dared to preach the truth about Jesus Christ. The other prisoners were listening when an earthquake started. The prison doors opened and the prisoner's chains fell off. They were in a dark cold dungeon and they were rejoicing.
The church at Philippi knew about this event. One of their own was saved that night. The prison was in Philippi. The jailer was saved with his whole household.
Paul's joy about the gospel was real. He was not just blowing smoke. He knew what it was to suffer for the gospel, but he always rejoiced that the message of salvation through Christ was going out. The church at Philippi knew Paul. They knew his heart and his purpose in life.
When Paul said “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” they knew that he was sincere. This man was committed to seeing Christ lifted up and God glorified. When Paul prayed, he did not pray for comfort and a peaceful life of luxury.
He prayed for enough courage to boldly take Christ to a lost and dying world. He prayed that God would be glorified in his life...
Even in his death! “So that now as always Christ may be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death!”
Paul was not sure what was going to happen to him. He knew that the outcome of his trial could mean death for him. He said he was torn between dying and going to be with Christ and living to continue to minister to God's people. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” How much better, for Paul, to die, to have his suffering and difficulties over, to reign with Christ for eternity.
But to remain in the body was better for the Philippians, and for others he would minister to if he lived. He was at a crossroad. He was ready to depart and be forever in the presence of the Lord. This was the easy way out. He made a choice here. He surrendered to what He knew the Lord wanted. He would stay and do what God wanted Him to do.
We who know Christ, look forward to heaven and our eternal reward for putting our trust in the One True God. At times, this option seems for us the best that could happen to us. But we do not choose what is best for us. We choose to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and accept what He wants for us. Paul recognized God was not finished with him yet, but Oh, How he longed for the peace and rest of the next life.
Paul here gave us an example to follow. He was following His Lord who had also faced such a crisis. The garden of Gethsemane is where Jesus faced His crisis. He was fully God and fully man. He, like us, came to the place where He had to choose. He prayed, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” But in the next breath He called out to the Father, “But, not my will, Thy will be done.”
We also face such times of crisis, do we not? This is what our Lord meant when he told us to deny ourselves and to take up our cross and follow Him. We are taught by the leaders in the early church that we must put off the old man and put on the new man. When Jesus went to the cross he made the way clear for us. We need to die to self, to our wants and wishes, and allow God to be God. He is to be our Lord.
FIRST: He loves me! And a close SECOND: He is my Lord!
Christ is preached and I Rejoice! I may be in chains, but God is being glorified because of my chains. It would be so nice to go home to heaven and lay my burden down, but not my will, God's will be done.
You may be saying something like this: “I want so bad to give up on my marriage, but not my will, Thy will be done!”
I want to lay down this burden of teaching this class, but not my will, Thy will be done!
Or perhaps some of you have been asked to teach and have said no. Some of you said yes, when it would have been so much easier to lay that burden down. You have served the Lord faithfully for many years and now He asks you to carry the burden a little longer. It is just not fair! Justice and fairness belong to the Lord. We release our claim to it. We surrender to His will.
God has been asking some of you to sing for His glory. You resist. Lay that burden down. Praise God with the voice He has given you.
We need youth workers and teachers here at our church. We may need a custodian.
I do not know what God is asking you to do today. It may have to do with a relationship that needs to be restored. It may have to do with your eating habits, or with what you watch on TV or where you go on the internet.
God wants to be in every part of your life. He wants to walk with you as you face the difficulties at home, at work, at school and at church. He is the answer to all your needs. He is asking you to surrender to Him as Lord and Savior! We will be happy when we seek Him! When we seek Him, He will give us the answers to the questions He wants us to ask.
God may be asking you to surrender to Him as Lord and Savior for the first time today. Resistance if futile. Surrender to the true Lord of the Universe.
When Christ is preached and God is glorified we who love Him rejoice!