Gospel Progress

Pray: 

Gracious Lord, teach me to have the single-minded focus that I see in Paul and to keep eternity ever in my sights.

Read: PHILIPPIANS 1:12-26

[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. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, [19] for I know that through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. [20] I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. [21] For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. [22] If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! [23] I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; [24] but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. [25] Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, [26]so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. 

 

Reflect: What will you suffer for the Gospel?

Today's passage begins and ends with a reference to "advance" or "progress" (12,25), linking the forward movement of the Gospel with the growth of the Philippians' faith.

As he writes, Paul is imprisoned, possibly even under sentence of death. This could discourage the Philippians and give doubters an opportunity to discredit his reputation. However, what looks like a setback to his mission has resulted in the Gospel's advance. Paul provides a perspective on his situation which trusts that God is sovereign and uses difficult circumstances for his own purposes. These words have given hope to Christians suffering persecution through the centuries. All of us, whether suffering or not, are encouraged to see what God is doing through us, and sometimes in spite of us, to advance the Gospel.

Paul also models generosity to those who oppose him or whose motives are questionable (17,18). The progress of the Gospel is not curtailed by our circumstances, nor dependent on our reputations. Even death will mean being with Christ in a fuller and more immediate sense (21), a truth that brings strength and comfort to believers.

 

Apply: 

Recall a time when something that was painful or difficult served to advance God's good work in the world.

 

Pray: 

Lord, in suffering or in joy, I desire to give myself wholly to You and to that which will last forever.

 

Syndicated via Scripture Union
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