Friday, February 26, 2021

2021.02.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:15–18

Read Philippians 1:15–18

Questions from the Scripture text: What do some do (Philippians 1:15)? From what? And others from what? From what do the former preach Christ (Philippians 1:16)? Supposing to do what? From what do the latter preach Christ (Philippians 1:17)? What did they know? What happened in both ways (Philippians 1:18)? And how does the apostle respond to each? 

We should be careful in judging these gospel preachers. Elsewhere, the apostle strongly denounces those who preach another gospel or a different Christ. These are not the “dogs” or “evil workers” of Philippians 3:2. However, real gospel preachers are still real sinners—and so are apostles and Philippians. 

What if we’re trying to rejoice over the good that God is bringing out of a hard situation, and then as we take a closer look, there is more disappointment and discouragement there than we saw at first glance?

When we’re determined to see God’s wisdom, goodness, and power even in difficult situations, there is a temptation to have too much of our joy wrapped up in the observable evidence of His advancing the gospel, rather than the theological certainty that He is doing so. Surely, this was a temptation that the apostle had faced down and that he now wanted the Philippians to be aware of and avoid. 

The apostle very much desired that believers’ love would abound more and more (Philippians 1:9). So, even if he was not relationally hurt by the motivations of the “some” who preached Christ “from envy and strife” and “from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to [his] chains,” this would have been a blow to the apostle whose heart and life were invested in seeing exactly the opposite condition of their hearts. This is an important caution to us: that the motivations of our hearts are very deceitful, even when we think we are doing good and maybe even are, outwardly, doing good!

But this brings to the forefront the question: upon which are we primarily focusing—upon what man is doing, or upon what God is doing? If we focus upon what man is doing, then there will inevitably be enough disappointment to sink our spirits. But, if we focus upon what God is doing, we are liberated to take real joy from every particle we see of the goodness and power of His grace!

Are some preaching the true Christ out of mixed and even false motives? Well, then we can rejoice not only over the fact that there are others who are emboldened (Philippians 1:14) out of love for both unbelievers and apostles (Philippians 1:17), but that even some of those who are otherwise motivated are still preaching the true gospel of the true Christ (Philippians 1:18). By focusing upon what the Lord is doing, the apostle is enabled to rejoice always (cf. Philippians 4:4), because his rejoicing in the Lord, and the Lord is always doing good!

What is a situation you are discouraged about? What is the Lord doing in it? How can you rejoice in it?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

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