This Sunday, Father’s Day, I preached from Philippians 1:12-18:
12Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[a] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
15It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.[b] 18But 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.
This passage deals with Paul’s acceptance of being in prison and his pleasure in the gospel being preached, even though he is in chains. Apparently, he had enemies, who were trying to stir up trouble against him by preaching the gospel out of insincere motives so that people would blame Paul. I have heard this passage preached many times, and always the interpretation points us toward a belief in God’s Sovereignty so that we will have a confidence that no matter what situation we find ourselves in, everything will work out o.k.
I have always seen that passage that way myself. However, as I was reading, I began to see that the picture that is painted is that Paul is most excited that the Gospel is being preached. No matter what happens to him, he has confidence that God is going to use him to proclaim the gospel, whether he is in prison, or being maligned by his enemies. What an encouraging thought! I challenged the parents in our church, and fathers in particular to consider if they were passing on to their children the same type of passion for the gospel. For Paul the gospel was everything. It was more important than happiness, comfort, freedom, wealth, prestige, or position. It’s proclamation was the singular purpose of his life and it made every trial worth suffering. Are we teaching that to our children? Are we living that ourselves? Can we join with Paul in saying that the most important thing in our lives is that Christ is preached? Because of this, do we rejoice?
I pray that is the case, because nothing else is worth living for.