Philippians 1:12-18 conveys Paul’s passion in sharing the gospel. And how the message is delivered despite his imprisonment and the rivalry of other preachers.
In Philippians 1:12-18 Paul presents a positive attitude despite his circumstances
Difficult circumstances challenge your attitude. And this impacts how well you navigate those circumstances. Because they cause self-pity. Which makes your attitude worse. And piles on more self-pity that spirals down the drain of depression.
REFLECT AND RECORD
Think about a difficult circumstance you’ve experienced. What impact did your attitude have on how well you navigated it? How did it resolve? What part did your Christian faith play in getting you through it?
V. 12 What has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel
The Greek word for advance is prokopēn and means advancement in spite of barriers that hinder progress.
What barriers and hinderance does Paul mean? Well, he’s in prison. And sitting in a jail cell instead of out preaching is a hindrance and barrier to evangelistic progress. As well as an attitude killer that could easily plunge him into a downward spiral. But he refused to take that path and instead, made the most of his circumstances.
The Praetorium refers to the residence of the Roman governor and the Praetorian guard was a branch within the Roman military assigned to the security of the imperial family. Paul is under their supervision while he waits for his trial.
So he shares the gospel with the soldiers guarding him. And the captivity you’d expect to halt spreading the gospel becomes the expression that carries it forward.
Chains for Christ…
Furthermore, it grows clear his only offense is a passion for sharing the gospel message. You can almost imagine the soldiers exchanging prisoner updates during their shift change. “Good luck with the crazy preacher and his Jesus resurrection story.”
Do you see the irony? The amazing paradox of God’s truth? That a prisoner shares with his captors how to experience true freedom?
Philippians 1:12-18 demonstrates how Paul’s attitude positively influenced others
Hang around someone down in the dumps and they can drag you down too. But those with a positive outlook will lift you up. Provide encouragement in your difficulties. And that’s the approach Paul took.
V. 14 Are more bold to speak the word without fear
Paul’s determination to share the gospel and his enlistment of the Praetorium guard to serve in his salvation army was inspiring. It influenced other Christ-followers to share their faith as well.
And you have a sphere of influence too. Your family…friends…co-workers. Are all watching you. Taking some of your cues. Following your behaviors. Receiving your messages. What kind are you sending?
Of course, Paul’s boldness for Jesus Christ landed him in prison. Although we don’t face those dire consequences, our culture is growing increasingly hostile to Christ-followers. To God’s truth. And pushing us to make a public choice.
Will I stand up for Christ or bow before the culture?
Philippians 1:12-18 tells us about rivals with selfish motives.
V. 15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.
The Greek word for selfish ambition is eritheía which means self-seeking. It tells us not everyone sharing their faith did so with the same motives as Paul. It was true then and now.
Selfishness and rivalry are everywhere. Even In ministry. Between churches. Among church people.
REFLECT AND RECORD
What are some selfish ambitions you see within the church. How are rivalries played out? Describe your thoughts on what motivates them.
But aren’t we all on the same team? Yes. But we’re all still sinners. With different views on scripture, sense of God’s calling, and motives. Which aren’t always pure. Because–come on, be honest–we all struggle with selfish ambition.
And it taints our motives. Even in how and why we serve.
Is there motive you have that is not so pure right now? If so, confess it to God and seek his forgiveness.
Philippians 1:12-18 provides the antidote to self-seeking ministry and rivalry.
V. 18 whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Paul affirmed the believers who shared their faith with pure motives and called out those with impure motives. But he didn’t judge, which gives us an example to follow. Instead, we should examine our own motives, ask God to purify our hearts, and commit ourselves to His service.
Keep in mind this wasn’t the first time people used religion for self-gain. Jesus’ response to temple money changers demonstrates God’s view towards religious opportunists.
And even though Paul recognizes the religious opportunists were personally attacking him, he didn’t let it drag him down into a ministry rivalry. But flipped it into something positive. How?
By keeping his eyes on the mission and glorifying God for the results rather than who gets the credit.
This should represent our primary ministry goal although it will present a major, ministry challenge. And yet, offer us the greatest reward and sense of satisfaction in the Kingdom of God.