Philippians 1:12-20

"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. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice. For I know that this shall turnout for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body whether by life or by death."

Paul is now writing the Philippians regarding the preaching of the gospel. It is hard for my mind to imagine (especially if it were I in that prison) God's work continuing and not being slowed. However, that is just what was done in the case of Paul. Paul wrote letters to the Ephesians, the Colossians and the Philippians while in prison. Three wonderful books in our Bible. God most certainly did not waste time while Paul was in prison. While studying these scriptures I came across the following quote, "God never wastes our time, though we may waste it by not sensing God’s purpose for our lives at the moment."

Paul continues by speaking of how one should never preach God's word from "selfish ambition," but instead "from pure motives"(verse 17). Our hearts and our minds should always be pure when we are sharing God's love, never thinking of how many people might hear us or what they might think of us. Another quote I ran across while studying this passage was from A.M. Tozer. In it he is addressing the love that should be in our hearts and how we should always speak non-competitively of our God --
Dear Lord, I refuse henceforth to compete with any of Thy servants. They have congregations larger than mine. So be it. I rejoice in their success. They have greater gifts. Very well. That is not in their power nor in mine. I am humbly grateful for their greater gifts and my smaller ones. I only pray that I may use to Thy glory such modest gifts as I possess. I will not compare myself with any, nor try to build up my self-esteem by noting where I may excel one or another in Thy holy work. I herewith make a blanket disavowal of all intrinsic worth. I am but an unprofitable servant. I gladly go to the foot of the cross and own myself the least of Thy people. If I err in my self judgment and actually underestimate myself I do not want to know it. I purpose to pray for others and to rejoice in their prosperity as if it were my own. And indeed it is my own if it is Thine own, for what is Thine is mine, and while one plants and another waters it is Thou alone that giveth the increase.” (The Price of Neglect, 104-105)

The last note of importance that I would like to address is from verse 20 "according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." What a strong statement that Paul makes in this verse. For, not only is he saying to God "take my life here on earth and mold it as you see fit", but he is also saying "if you are best exalted by my dying, then that is okay, too". I have asked myself today if I am willing to die for Christ and I must admit it is hard. I think of my children still here on earth, of my husband, my friends, my church, etc. As a human it is so hard to imagine dying and not being here with them, but at the same time I know there are glories in heaven that I cannot even begin to imagine while I am still here on earth. And, then to think that my death might lead someone on earth to Christ, that is powerful, as well. In the end, we should all be willing to die for Christ.

As I look back at these scriptures, I believe the challenges I see ahead of me are:

    * That I would never waste the time God has given me to do his work

    * To always proclaim Christ's love with pure motives

    * To be willing to die for Christ

2 Thoughts Shared:

Tonya said...

Hey Girlie! It's so nice to "meet" you! I've not had time to REALLY look over your blog yet... but WOW, I'm BLOWN AWAY with all the scripture you use! That's kinda my motto... it doesn't matter WHAT "Tonya" has to say... if I can't back it up with scripture it's just "blowing smoke." =-)

Thanks for letting me know who you are and giving me the chance to stop by and meet you as well. ;-)


Tonya said...

Yes, sometimes being in "the pit" (or prison, or whatever valley we happen to be in) can be the thing/place that brings us closer to our LORD. It is so true that we should REJOICE in our trials as they make us more like our LORD!