Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Welcome to day two of our study of joy from the book of Philippians. Paul is in prison, and as a result of his incarceration there has been a renewed sense of urgency that has developed in people to be bold in their witness for Jesus Christ. Paul’s willingness to endure hardship for the sake of Jesus Christ has motivated others to become more courageous in their sharing of the gospel.
Philippians 1:12-14 “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.”
People were motivated to share the Gospel courageously and fearlessly because of how Paul responded to jail time. Paul says that as a result of his chains the whole palace guard and all of the people responsible for the operation of the jail now know why he is there. They were all exposed to the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ. Everyone in the churches knew of Paul’s boldness when he was free. Now they have seen his boldness when there is an attempt to silence him. They have seen the true nature of salvation: it is not simply a convenient lifestyle that produces positive results, but it is a total transformation of the whole being that produces consistency in spite of circumstances.
As a result, the people of the churches were being motivated to surrender their lives to the cause of Jesus Christ. Oh there were some who were faking it and were boldly speaking out for Christ out of envy and rivalry, and maybe even out of the selfish motives of spiritual attention deficit disorder. But Paul understood, as we should, that the power of God is in the speaking of the truth not in the motive of the heart. The motive determines our reward, but not the hearer’s response. The Word of God does not return void – ever!
For this reason Paul rejoices. He is filled with joy because the gospel of salvation is being preached and taught to more and more people. My friends, we are partners in the gospel, and we should be rejoicing when we hear of the gospel being preached. My heart is broken when I hear about churches that are fighting over how the gospel is preached or what methods are being used for evangelism. I am distressed when I get reports of people who are attacking leadership because they don’t like a particular way the pastor speaks or challenges them or some author or book he plans to use. I am confused by the people who call themselves Christians and continue to cause division and hurt in the church because music, worship style, and people’s personal freedoms do not match their own choices. To quote Paul, “What does it matter?” We should all be rejoicing because the gospel is being preached. Our only concern should be for the truth and not a false gospel. The method and the motive are insignificant if the message is true.
Let’s spend today repenting of the criticisms of the church, and rejoicing over the ways the people of the church are spreading the gospel. That’s all that really matters. Today, choose joy instead of being a joy-sucker.