THE UNCHAINED GOSPEL
Lord, I thank You for my circumstances. Please show me how they can advance the Gospel.
Read PHILIPPIANS 1:7–11
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
When did you last write a letter to a loved one while you were in adverse circumstances and wrote not of your dire straits but of your affection for the loved one?
With verse 12, Paul moves to the body of the letter. Knowing that his case will come to court soon, Paul shares details of his personal circumstances. He clarifies that he is imprisoned in Rome not for political reasons but for his faith in Christ. He assures his Philippian readers that his imprisonment is mutually beneficial: believers are getting bolder in preaching Christ, the Gospel is advancing and he is maturing still. For this, Paul is rejoicing. It is important to note that he does not focus on his circumstances but on the advancement of the Gospel. He rejoices in prison because he realizes that though he is in chains, the Gospel is not. Adversity can many times propel the Gospel.
Many believers have begun to preach the Gospel with more daring and less fear, but unfortunately some have the wrong motives. “But what does it matter?” Paul exclaims (18). Astonishingly, he can look past the misplaced motives of one group of believers and even appreciate that they preach Christ. Paul’s gracious attitude, fueled by his passion for the spread of the Gospel, serves to discourage a misplaced focus on our differences—denominational or theological. Proclaiming Christ is everything!
Paul does not traffic in idle words when he writes (unlike many users of modern social media), so why does he share this personal information about his circumstances in Rome? Two reasons come to mind. First, because his friends in Philippi are concerned about him, but second, and more crucially, because division threatens that church. Having the right priorities and perspective on things can help to overcome differences and divisions. Let us keep our eyes on what we have in common (Christ) rather than on what may divide us.
Reflect on how your own circumstances might help to advance the Gospel. Pray for people who are imprisoned for their faith, that they may gain the insights Paul did.
Lord Your ways are not ours. Allow me to appreciate Your work in and around me through methods that may seem strange to me.
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