Philippiansby David Sanford
Paul is probably under prolonged house arrest in Rome as he writes this epistle (Acts 28:16). He is guarded around the clock.
Worse, troublemakers are stirring things up for him while he is in chains (Philippians 1:17). These troublemakers aren't necessarily people out to defame Jesus Christ and His gospel; they may be jealous preachers trying to steal the limelight while Paul is confined.
Given these circumstances, it would be understandable if Paul is discouraged. But he remains joyful. He says, ″what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel″ (v. 12). Then he goes on to present three counter-intuitive, heavenly-minded reasons for saying this.
First, Paul has a constant stream of Roman soldiers with whom he can share Jesus Christ. As a result, they have learnt about the gospel and have talked about it with the rest of the palace guard and everyone else (v. 13). Even in today's world, word of mouth is still the most effective way to reach the masses.
Second, Paul's imprisonment has caused a number of godly Christians to ″become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear″ (v. 14). Only the empowering of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) can make people fearless in doing God's good and perfect will, despite danger and possible imprisonment. And like Paul, they will be motivated by love (Philippians 1:16)-for God and for him.
Third, a growing percentage of the region's population has learnt about Jesus Christ (v. 18). The more fiery the hypocrites and the fiercer the critics, the more God is glorified. Since God wants everyone to hear the good news, He can and will use anything and anyone to communicate it. The next time you hear an unusual testimony about someone coming to Jesus Christ-for example, someone coming to faith after noticing an atheist's Facebook comment, reading a secular article, or listening to a worldly song-remember Paul's words here and rejoice (v. 18).
Whatever our circumstances, let's always look for heavenly-minded reasons to rejoice and give thanks in Jesus Christ.
Is there someone who is an example and encouragement for you to share the gospel? Pray for them, their witness, and yours.
What is hindering you from proclaiming Jesus Christ in the face of danger or suffering?