Rejoice that Christ is Preached!

October 3, 2021

Pastor Gunnar Ledermann

Philippians 1:12-18

Philippians 1:12-18

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 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.

 

Yesterday, there were multiple competitions in downtown Rockwall. There was a BBQ contest featuring awards for the best brisket and pulled pork. There was also a 10k, 5k and fun run with prizes for the best times. As I walked around, I saw a lot of joy on faces dripping from plates loaded with smoked and savory protein, and also dripping with sweat after months of time and energy showed itself in completing the course that began and ended up hill. I saw a lot of joy yesterday, but there were also some competitors who prepared great meals and ran good times that did not do so for the joy of something they love. Some competed out of jealous envy focused only on winning, hoping to beat someone who had beat them in past years and getting praise from others.

Moses ran into a situation where jealousy replaced joy. In Numbers 11, God told Moses to call seventy of Israel’s elders together who were leaders and officials. God then sent his Spirit to rest on them and they prophesied, but only that time. Two men who were listed among the elders did not come but remained in the camp and prophesied as well. 28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” 29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” Joshua had been with Moses a long time, and when the men who ought to have assembled with the other elders prophesied, Joshua did not feel it was right. Moses was God’s prophet and these men had not followed the directions, so they ought not be allowed to prophesy. Moses was quick to correct his young aid. Moses was glad to see more of God’s people filled with the Spirit and carrying out the work of God. Joshua also ought to have realized that God was the one who allowed the other two men to prophesy, when he could have excluded them.

As with Moses, God allowed the Apostle Paul to focus on the spread of his Word. Paul had good reason not to be focused on the spread of the gospel; he was in prison in Rome awaiting trial before Caesar for spreading the gospel. Most in his circumstances would have spent their time lawyering up and tweeting how unfair their treatment was, but Paul saw his imprisonment as yet another way to spread the message of Jesus. We read in Philippians 1, 14 “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” Paul’s blindness to his chains and focus on Christ allowed the gospel to spread in Rome.

Although the gospel was spreading due to Paul’s imprisonment, all who were spreading the good news of Jesus were not as Christ focused as Paul. Paul wrote, 15 “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.” There were two different motives for spreading the gospel in Rome. Paul’s point here was not that there were some spreading false teachings, while others preached the truth. His point here was that the true gospel was being preached by many, but the reason for preaching was coming from two different kinds of hearts. He wrote, 16 “The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.” There were some preaching the gospel because of the love in their hearts. Their love was unselfish and sought to share the good news of Jesus because it changes lives and unleashes the Holy Spirit to work faith in the forgiveness and eternal life won by Jesus at the cross. Then, there were others preaching the same gospel, but with selfish ambitions. Some preached hoping to show their equality or even superiority to Paul, and with the hopes of gaining a large following for themselves.

Envious motives to share Jesus continue to live in our hearts. Some examples include making sure everyone hears how much better you are at singing or playing an instrument during worship. Or volunteering to help with Kingdom Kids so that everyone knows how much better you read to the children and how good your crafts are, so that the kids beg for you to help. Or how your dishes at the potluck or that are part of a meal train get the best reviews. Or talking about how many people you have invited to church and the rich spiritual conversations that you have had so people only wish they had your gifts, passion and enthusiasm for the kingdom of God. Fill in your envious moments when you have served the mission of God’s kingdom with an ulterior motive. Those motives do not come from the gospel. They are dangerous because on the outside they do get the news out about Jesus, but inside an envious heart can get lost in its own kingdom, rather than God’s kingdom. An envious heart may encourage others but get so lost in itself to the point of forgetting and forfeiting what Jesus has done to save it.

Jesus saved you from your envy motivated heart. In Mark 9, Jesus made a series of illustrations showing how dangerous any part of us that leads us to sin is. For example, he said, 43 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.” Jesus’ examples showed how serious sin is; removing sin from your life is the difference between eternal life in heaven and eternity in hell. The problem is that you and I cannot remove enough to save ourselves. There would be nothing left because all our sin comes from our hearts affecting our whole body as Jesus said in Mark 7, 21 “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder.” Since we cannot remove any of our sins, Jesus became one of us. He was born into this world to give his whole body to save us. We read in Hebrews 2, 14 “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—.” Jesus’ whole body was cut off from life to save you. And his whole body was raised to life to show that you have been saved, freed from death, the devil and evil motives. Jesus’ motivation to save you came from his heart of love. And his loving heart wanted as many people to hear about his saving work as possible as we hear in Mark 1, 38 “Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’” Jesus’ joy came from sharing the good news of his saving work. This means, he is filled with joy that your heart belongs to him.

As with Moses and Paul, your joy comes from Jesus’ gospel being shared. Moses was glad to see God send the Holy Spirit into more of his people. The Apostle Paul was glad that the gospel was being shared as we hear in Philippians 1, 18 “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 rejoiced that the gospel, the truth that Jesus gave his innocent life to save us from our sins, death and hell giving us eternal life in heaven, was preached. His concern was for the kingdom of God, not for earthly fame or for personal followers, and we read, 13 “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” Even the soldiers guarding him saw that the reason he was in prison was not for a crime, but to spread the gospel. When you serve the mission of God’s kingdom, do so with the pure joy of the gospel. Serve without the need for recognition. Serve with the joy of watching God change hearts that once were lost and the joy of keeping your fellow believers encouraged as they serve God and wait to enter heaven. When you see others struggling with their motives, bring it up with them it a way that shows you want them to return to the joy of the gospel and not be burdened with envious motives. When you stop focusing on your circumstances and focus on Jesus, what he has done for you recorded in his Word, your heart will be filled with joy.

Yesterday there were multiple competitions in downtown Rockwall. I participated in the 5k and one of the runners stood out to me. It was not the one who came in first place, but a runner who gave encouraging words to all the other runners. The joy was so clear, both the joy of being able to run and encourage others to run. Paul wrote, 18 … “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.” Jesus changed your future. Even when you are stuck and feel imprisoned by the world around you, you still have Jesus. You still have the love of God, the forgiveness of sins, a home in heaven, purpose for your life in serving God’s kingdom, etc. All of this is yours, and it is for all who hear and believe what Jesus has done for them. Rejoice that Christ is preached. Amen.

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