Philippians: How Suffering Advances the Gospel (Verses 12-14)
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually 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. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. Philippians 1:12-14, NIV
Paul’s imprisonment opened doors that his freedom could never open.
He understood that the pain of his suffering was tethered to God’s purpose.
1/ Through suffering, we intensify and identify with Jesus.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11, NIV
2/ Through suffering, we are tested and strengthened.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12, ESV
3/ Through suffering, we help others.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NLT
4/ Through suffering, we find new opportunities to share the Gospel.
Paul’s purity led to his pain, which led to greater purpose.
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12, NIV
While physical persecution has not been prevalent in the West, it continues.
“Most amazing of all, we were in the best place we’d ever been for witnessing to people hungry for the gospel of Jesus. Now we were stuck in jail, and God was bringing spiritual seekers in waves. And we could tell our fellow prisoners the story of Jesus openly because no one would come into this rat hole to spy on us. We were more free inside the prison to give the message of salvation than outside the prison.”
The question isn’t if persecution is coming, but how we will handle it.
“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Francis Cardinal George
It isn’t about lives that end well, but lives that are lived well!
Philippians: Motives Matter (Verses 15-18a)
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 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. Philippians 1:15-18a, NIV
Motive is what causes a person to act. And motives matter!
Paul isn’t challenging the biblical principle of motives in this passage. He’s simply clarifying that God can use anything to further His kingdom.
In Galatia, people were preaching a wrong Christ. In Philippi, people were preaching with wrong motives. There is a difference!
WHAT ABOUT RESULTS?
Pragmatism says: “If this way brings the desired results, it must be the right way.”
GOD CARES ABOUT OUR MOTIVES
All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Proverbs 16:2, NIV
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12, ESV
Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. James 4:3, NLT
WHY DO I DO WHAT I DO?
It is possible to do the right thing with the wrong heart. Remember Cain and Abel.
This does not contradict the principle of sowing and reaping or the promise of reward.
When the motive is flawed, the reward is affected.
“If there was no additional benefit to me, would I still do this?”
“Am I doing this for the praise of people?”
“Am I doing this because of how it makes me feel?”
“If I had to suffer for continuing this, would I keep doing it?”
“If no one ever knew I was doing this, would I still do it?”
“If I am criticized for this, will I keep doing it?”
“If I never received thanks or pay, would I still do this?”
In the end, motives matter and this should be our primary aim: Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4, NLT