“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”
When Paul wrote this letter to the disciples in the city of Philippi he was in prison. His future was unknown. His living conditions were not exactly optimal for good health. It would not be surprising to hear him be discouraged and wish for it all to end.
Instead, Paul shares with them his joy in serving the in the name of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While he may desire to go to heaven he understood God wanted him to remain so he can continue sharing the Gospel to everyone he met.
Paul held the Gospel in high esteem. It was the most important thing to him. Verse 18 of this passage he celebrate whenever the Gospel is preached. He knew when the Gospel was shared the Holy Spirit worked in the hearts of people. Even if a person had false motives, or preached for selfish gains, the Gospel was more powerful so it would still reach those who needed to hear it.
What we learn from Paul is to rejoice whenever we hear the Gospel being shared. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote,
“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
We know the Word of God (aka the Gospel) will reach each person who needs to hear it. We can rejoice with Paul each time we Gospel because we know the Holy Spirit is at work in those on the verge of faith.
It can be tempting to judge one’s motives in preaching the Gospel. Instead of judgment, let’s stop and pray for the Holy Spirit to do its work. We can pray for those hearing the Gospel so their hearts are open to receive it and be transformed by it.
While Paul may want to return home to Heaven he served with joy knowing God was still using him reach those who are not yet believers. Paul might be in prison but he was still free to serve and share Jesus Christ with everyone.
As we go about our days let us look for opportunities to share the Gospel and then in joy pray for the Holy Spirit to plant the seeds of faith in the hearts of those not yet believers of Jesus Christ.
We may not be in a physical prison but there are obstacles we must overcome in order to share the Gospel. Be it fear of rejection. A sense of inadequacy to share. A desire to simply fit in. Whatever it is there is some thing that holds us back. But we have no need to fear.
If we worry about not having the words to say learn from Moses (Exodus 3-4). God called him to lead the Israelites and promised to give him the words to say to Pharaoh, the most powerful man on Earth.
If we fear rejection look to Daniel (Daniel 6). Daniel stood resolved with God and was thrown in the lions’ den to certain death. God protected him and by witnessing Daniel’s faithfulness people were saved that day.
Have anxiety about not being good enough look to Jesus’ own 12 Disciples. They were rejected by all of the rabbis to be their students. Jesus came to them and invited them to be His closest students.
Have no fear. Be bold. Share with someone why you love Jesus. Let the Holy Spirit work in their heart. Then rejoice with Paul that the Gospel is being preached to those who need to hear it.
This Week’s Challenge
Each time you see or hear the Gospel being shared stop and pray for the Holy Spirit to accomplish what God has for His Word to do. Then rejoice with Paul that the Gospel is being preached.