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.
Paul has been telling the Philippians that he is rejoicing because as a result of his imprisonment the gospel is being preached in Rome, and now he continues his thoughts on that subject. It would seem that there are people who are preaching the gospel with impure motives, that they would like to stir up trouble for Paul. He hasn’t told us exactly how this would happen for him, so I will leave the speculation to others, but let’s be honest; there are those today who preach for the wrong motives as well.
I have seen and heard of some who preach out of envy and rivalry, have you? I have seen some who simply can’t stand the thought of anybody else serving Christ in that way, who are always afraid that someone might supplant them or their ministry. Maybe they are afraid for their job or their position, or maybe they just have a sense of inferiority. Whatever the reason, they are only good “team players” if everyone else is on their team. It’s sad really, for it should never be this way in the Body of believers, for all of us are on His Team! Most that I have seen, however, serve out of goodwill. As Paul has noted here, they serve out of love for others. As Paul put it, they know that he was put here for the defense of the gospel. Yes, isn’t that why all of us are “put here”?
“Selfish ambition” may be a reason that many preach, thinking that they can “be somebody” by attracting followers, just as a celebrity might attract fans. This sort of thing has no place in the church, and yet perhaps it is more common than we might like to admit.
I know about a particular case where there was a minster leading a growing church. He was doing good work, and yet like all of us, wasn’t good at everything. His leadership considered adding an “associate” to staff who was much more experienced and who could handle the areas that the minister had problems in. When the minister heard about this, he became quite upset; all he could see was that the leaders were thinking he wasn’t doing the job right. He felt that if they added someone to help him, the people would see him as having been rebuked in some way. When the other guy heard of this, he removed himself from consideration, not wanting to cause any division. Was the growth and health of that church damaged by this? Would it have been even more vibrant had things worked out differently? We will never know; maybe that guy coming on board just wasn’t God’s plan, but I think you get the idea of what can happen… Right about now, we might want to jump on the bandwagon of condemnation and indignation, but before we do, maybe we should see how Paul reacts…
Paul recognized the situation, and while he did not endorse false motives in any way, he saw that good was coming out of it in spite of everything. What did it matter anyway? For whatever reason, the gospel of Christ was being proclaimed, and that is the most important thing.
Have you noticed how Paul views things? He isn’t overly concerned with his unfortunate circumstances, he isn’t overly concerned that everything isn’t always ideal, his sole concern is that the gospel of Jesus Christ goes forth so that some will be saved, that their sins may be forgiven, and that they may inherit eternal life. I wonder, is there a lesson in this for us today?