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.
7How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
8The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
9Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.
Get the Program, Devotional, and Bible Reading Plan delivered daily right to your inbox.