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Philippians 1:12-26 (Part 1)



Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly …

The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. (verses 12-14, 18)


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I went to a funeral yesterday of a man I’d only had the privilege to meet a couple of times, and that only over the last two months. Those meetings took place on several early Sunday mornings before church, gathering with a small group to pray. In that place, I heard his heart. I discovered he was suffering from cancer, though his demeanor certainly wouldn’t have declared it – he was full of positive joy. The last time I saw him was in the church service itself as he shared with the whole congregation his testimony of coming to faith in Jesus, some sixty years earlier. He revelled in the storytelling. It was one of his last public events. The following weekend he passed away.


At his funeral I got to know him much better. I understood, then, that he told that specific story of conversion all the time. Non-stop. Each of his grown adult kids knew it well, inside and out. So did his grandkids. It became clear from the memories shared, that many, many others had also heard the very same story, in its entirety, over many years, in many parts of the world.


The reason? He delighted in the gospel. Plain and simple. He looked for opportunities to share it – indeed he created as many as he could! For him, the Apostle’s statement could have been his own: “The important thing is that in every way … Christ is preached.”


Paul meant it. As he writes this letter, he’s imprisoned, for no good reason except simply his commitment to the gospel. To him it doesn’t matter, for the gospel is worth any cost. Not only so, but his imprisonment has given him a new venue in which to share it. He has encountered a whole retinue of palace guards, and he rejoices to tells us they all now know the reason he’s there. You can almost see the glint in his eyes as he eagerly seizes the opportunity to share with each captive guard, one after another, the good news about Jesus. Christ’s love compels him!


But more, Paul’s own example has strengthened the rest of the believers, to the extent that they, too, have become much more fearless in sharing the word of God with those around them. Paul was captive, but he saw the gospel running free. He rejoiced.

At the same time there were others, seemingly believers also, who were more interested in the limelight than in the gospel itself. They saw Paul’s imprisonment as their own opportunity to shine in “gospel” ministry, out from under the Apostle’s shadow. Paul says they do it out of “envy and rivalry … (and) out of selfish ambition” (Phil 1:15-16), imagining they would create trouble for him. But Paul says, “What does it matter? The important thing is that in every way … Christ is preached.”


I am inspired. The name of Jesus is central. The gospel shines. The word goes forth. Salvation is received. In the early church, and still today, opportunities are seized, making Jesus known. And the gospel advances.


What could be more important?


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Lord Jesus, there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. You have paid the price. You have ransomed us for yourself. Strengthen us by your Spirit to spread the good news of salvation at every opportunity. You have gifted us differently, each one, but open doors for us to be used in your service, sharing the goodness of your name. To your glory. Amen.


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Reflect: What opportunity has the Lord put before you in which you could share the good news? Will you seize it (even if you can’t yet see it)? Pray for the empowering of his Spirit.


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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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