For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 10
“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. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 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!” Philippians 1:15-18
Jesus radically transformed Paul’s life. Out of the overflow of this encounter with Jesus, Paul had developed a relentless conviction that the message of the Gospel must go to all people and stretch to the ends of the earth. Reflect on how Paul’s passion for the Gospel mirrors or differs from your own – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” 1 Corinthians 9:16. “Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice!” Philippians 1:18
Are you ashamed of the Gospel? Are you convinced that the Gospel is the only hope for salvation? Would you rue the day that you stopped preaching the Gospel? Do you rejoice when the true Gospel is preached, even by those you do not like or respect?
The King and His Kingdom are the motivation of the Gospel. Jesus Himself lays out our pattern for motivation, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33. While Paul was confined to a Roman prison, there were some who were taking advantage of his absence, preaching the Gospel from envy and rivalry. Ultimately, the motivation of envy is, “I want to have the most” and the motivation of rivalry is, “I want to be the best.” Paul contrasts these poor motives with those who honor Christ by preaching for the “good will” of all, “out of a heart of love” for all, and for the glory and “honor” of Christ.
Before judging the motivations of others, let us first confess our own sinful motivations in even our most holy endeavors. On our best days, our motives can still easily be tainted by pride and blotched by selfishness. We cannot judge or control why or how other believers and churches proclaim the Gospel. Instead, we ought to rejoice that people are coming to Christ even if we may not agree with the means or the motivations for their proclamation.
While we should be gracious in evaluating others motivations, we must be vigilant in evaluating others Gospel message. As author John Piper points out, “Paul is more agitated when the gospel itself is defective than he is when the people who preach the true gospel are defective.” A “defective” messenger, God can use… for we are all broken vessels (see 2 Corinthians 4:7). But, a “defective” message is a much bigger problem. Compare Paul’s graciousness in Philippians with his intolerance in Galatians, “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8. We cannot affirm a false gospel, even when it is coming from a friend or a respected peer.
At the end of the day, we should strive to have our message and motivations match with Christ. Our daily desire and relentless passion must be to magnify Christ and multiply His Kingdom.