Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
In his missionary letter to the Philippian church, Paul gets real. Though he shares encouraging news, the picture is not all rosy. The motivations some people had for sharing the gospel were downright bad—they were driven not by good will so much as by rivalry and a desire to stir up trouble for the apostle.
The wrong motives of other people didn’t become the determining element in Paul’s attitude, however. Their selfishly motivated preaching did not keep him awake at night or mar his commitment to seeing the kingdom advance. He passionately wanted the true gospel to be preached, so he wasn’t primarily concerned about the reasons others had for preaching, as long as they were still preaching Christ. His concern was for the Lord’s glory, not for his own stature or even for his safety.
Perhaps we find ourselves relating to Paul, surrounded by those who share their faith out of false motives. But if we allow these failings to determine our own attitude or actions, it will cripple us. We will spend too much of our time and energy either constantly questioning the intentions of others or continually refuting and rebutting what they’re doing. That would be to give the devil a great gain, in that we would then be distracted from proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s a huge temptation! But Paul didn’t fall into that trap.
Alternatively, you and I may wrestle with our own wrong motives for sharing the gospel. One of the most significant challenges we all face is the potential for dreadful self-centeredness and pride. Even in matters of our faith, we often wrongly want others to recognize us, and so we do the right thing but for the wrong reasons (or, more usually, a mix of right and wrong reasons). At the same time, we find that envy prevents us from rejoicing in the fruitfulness of another’s life and ministry. But thanks be to God: He still uses broken vessels like us to carry forth the great gift of His message.
So, like Paul, fix your eyes on the goodness of Jesus and the advancement of His gospel, no matter the circumstances surrounding you or the flawed motives you suspect in others or see in yourself. Seek to set aside your own pride and ambition so that your greatest concern will be the Lord’s glory—and as you do so, continue to share Him with those around you. What matters most is that Christ is preached, and in that we can all rejoice.
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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.