Philippians 1: 15-26
In every society, there are leaders and those who would be leaders. Those who have the voice and those who desire to have the voice. There are and have always been competing efforts to have the ear of the people for the purpose of notoriety and popularity. In our text, the apostle Paul, while in a Roman prison, writes to the Philippians. He writes that there are those who are proclaiming the gospel for reasons other than the proclamation of salvation; nonetheless, Christ is being proclaimed, which has a power of its own.
1 A NEW EFFORT (Philippians 1:15-18) As Paul is imprisoned, new efforts to spread the Gospel have come onto the scene. Paul calls into question the motives of those who were preaching about Christ. Some were preaching out of strife, while others preached out of goodwill. Paul’s presence posed a threat to leaders who were there before him. They were vying for Paul’s leadership in the Christian community. Paul, however, rejoiced that these would be spreading the Gospel regardless of their motives. Paul says that the Gospel is bigger than personal pettiness. No one is truly worthy to proclaim the gospel. The Gospel cannot be held hostage; no one can alter its power.
2 A CERTAIN VICTORY (vv. 19-26)
Paul was confident in spite of being jailed and challenged by rivals. Paul preached salvation, being sure of his dependence on and in Christ for victory. Paul was never certain of his release from prison, yet he was not too concerned about it. His concern was not with life or death; he was concerned with Christ being magnified. He was willing to meet his fate, life, or death; he found a favorable outcome. Death was a portal into a greater realm of a life fulfilled with greatness. For Paul, life was Christ; apart from Christ, life has no meaning or purpose. Therefore death does not equal loss but gain. Death is not final; however, if released from jail, life is simply an opportunity to continue to proclaim the good news. He desires to live, for there is more work to be done. Paul is now divided by two options, to be with Christ or to continue to serve fellow Christians. Viewing life to be necessary for the sake of the Philippians, in either way, life or death. He reminds them that it is Christ who must remain the subject of their boasting and not he himself. Paul now looks forward to the new life in Christ. He's prepared a bold gospel, honoring Christ in life or death.
Often, it is disturbing to see so many exploiting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There have been and likely will continue to be those who use the Gospel for reasons other than what it’s truly intended. Many have enriched themselves, taken advantage of, and used the Gospel for personal gain and notoriety, popularity, to grandstand. As Paul remains jailed, some thought to rise, in the Christian community. There were those who desired to become large in the leadership. None of this phased Paul. To him, this is a non-issue. Not only was it fruitless, but there is a purpose, for they still proclaimed Christ, regardless of their motives.
The power of the Gospel is more powerful than any personal motive. The Gospel supersedes any misguided proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As we preach and teach the good news of Jesus Christ, we need not concern ourselves with alternative motives. Paul also says Rejoice, and again I say, rejoice!
Rev. J. H. Eskridge