1:18b Yes, and I will rejoice,
1:19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
1:20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Paul knows that whether he is set free or put to death he will be delivered-brought to to proper place.
Even now, Paul is bold as he holds onto his hope.
Philippians 1:21 is a pretty well known verse. We especially like to quote the first part: "to live is Christ." but that is only half of the story. We do not often focus on "to die is gain." In the context of this passage it is quite a powerful statement of faith. As I have written in earlier posts, Paul is writing this letter while imprisoned. He is waiting to hear whether he will be set free or sentenced to death. One way or the other Paul knows that "this will turn out for my deliverance."
In yesterday's post we learned the reason Paul was rejoicing; and he continues with that thought in these next verses. What strikes at my heart this morning, is that he views either outcome as deliverance. Deliverance is "the act of being rescued or set free." We know from Acts 28:30 that Paul stayed two full years in the quarters he rented during his imprisonment. Two years... waiting for men to decide his fate, and yet Paul knows that it is not men who are truly in charge of his fate. He is very clearly letting the Philippians know that their prayers will be answered, he will be delivered, and whether he is delivered to life or death it is all good, in fact it is very good. That is a hard pill for me to swallow. It is a hard pill to swallow when you are sitting at the bedside of a loved one as they breathe their last breath. It is a hard pill to swallow when you pray for healing that does not come. It is a hard pill to swallow when you pray for brothers and sisters in Christ who are being imprisoned and tortured in other countries for the sake of the Gospel. It is a hard pill to swallow when you are being ridiculed for your faith. But it does not appear to be hard at all for Paul; he is rejoicing, he is excited and you can just hear it in the tone of this letter. I want what Paul had, okay, maybe not the imprisoned for the faith part, but the confidence and joy he possessed. Have you ever heard someone say, "she is so heavenly minded that she is no earthly good?" I am starting to think they may have it all backwards. What earthly good am I if I am not heavenly minded?
May I be bold and courageous in proclaiming Christ and may I gain Paul's eternal perspective.
Grace and Peace,
1:15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will;
1:16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;
1:17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.
1:18a What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed: and in this I rejoice.
People were responding to Paul's imprisonment by preaching Christ.
The motives that moved people to preach differed greatly.
Paul rejoices in both, because either way Christ is being proclaimed.
Yesterday I wrote about how the church was responding to Paul's imprisonment in Without Fear, God's word was being shared. Apparently, there were some very differing motives behind it all. There were those who were "preaching Christ" out of love. Love for the Lord, love for Paul. They did not want his ministry to stop because he was in prison and so they took it up. Their motives were pure.
Then there were those who were preaching Christ to promote themselves. Paul was in prison and it gave them a chance to try and replace him. They wanted his fame, his influence, the love the people had for him. And so they preached the gospel, not because they cared about defending it, not because they desired that all should come to know Christ or to know the freedom and blessings that come through salvation. They did it to lift themselves up and thinking that it would bother Paul; to cause him distress.
Paul was not distressed. He was rejoicing. All he cared about was that the gospel was being preached. The power of God's word to save was not lessened by the motivation of the presenter. And the gospel was being preached more than ever.
It sounds to me like the message of Christ was not being changed. To be sure their were some impure hearts behind it, but they were not deceiving people with false teaching. They were sticking to God's word. This is an important distinction. That's why Paul could rejoice. I am not sure exactly what to do with the application of these verses today. At first I thought, well I should rejoice when Christ is preached, no matter whether I agree with the methods the person uses or not, and to some extent that is true. There are a lot of people sharing the gospel in what I think are pretty kooky ways out there today. As long as the message is not changed, I need to stop being critical and rejoice instead that Christ is being proclaimed. It is not about the messenger, but the message. But what about all the stuff being said by people today, especially those who are trying to be more inclusive, trying to make church popular with the masses? They are drawing large numbers of people to their services, to their activities, to their conferences-should I rejoice? Are they changing the message? is Christ still being proclaimed? These are the questions I am struggling with. I would love to hear what you think. I may even need to hear what you think.
These verses leave me desiring to pray for wisdom and discernment; and the ability to rejoice when Christ is proclaimed- not based upon the speaker, but the message that is shared.
I also need to pray that as I write and share God's word that my motives remain pure. Right now I am here because I love the Lord and I love His book and I desire to encourage that love in others. If this ever starts to be about me, then I am asking the Lord right now to do what is necessary to purify my heart- for I would much rather come to you with love than selfish ambition.
Grace and Peace,
I am a woman with a Mary heart and these are my musings as I read and study God's Word
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