The epistle to the Philippians, perhaps best known for its emphasis on joy and rejoicing, also develops the theme of the Christian mind. This is the first of a four part series on “Cultivating the Mind of Christ in a Christ-less society”. In part one we will discuss Philippians 1:12-18 and discover “The Most Important Thing” as we consider: Circumstances, Confidence, and Christ.
Philippians 1:12-18, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”
This letter was written to the church at Philippi about AD61. The church came into existence about 10 years earlier when Paul, led by the Holy Spirit through a vision, came and preached the gospel (Acts 16). This church loved Paul and he deeply loved them as well. It was the only church that sent Paul financial gifts to enable him to continue his ministry. This could be called a letter of thanksgiving for the gifts they had sent to Paul. Paul begins with a greeting, thanksgiving and prayers for them in chapter 1:1-11, which brings us to the passage of focus, Philippians 1:12-18.
Paul says, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me…” Paul calls their attention to the circumstances God is using in His life. He had not seen them for about ten years. Much had happened to the apostle Paul, as recorded in Acts 21-28. Paul had been attacked, beaten, and arrested in Jerusalem, imprisoned for 2 years in Caesarea, and now imprisoned in Rome. In the 10 years since he founded the church, Paul had experienced great suffering and harsh circumstances as listed in 2 Corinthians 11:22-28. Circumstances which would cause most to quit, blame others or even blame God, but not Paul. Even though in prison, Paul uses joy and rejoice fifteen times in this letter and commands them (in 4:4) to “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice”.
Do you and I rejoice in the Lord always or do we pout, blame and complain when circumstances seem to be against us? What does James 1:2 say? “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” The key to overcoming adverse circumstances is to have a single mind. A mind that sees God in, behind and reigning over all circumstances of life. You see, God is in control of all circumstances, good or bad, and He uses them to conform you and me to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). Paul understood this so he says repeatedly throughout this epistle-rejoice! Notice the rest of Philippians 1:12 where Paul says, “the things which have happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” The Philippians knew exactly what Paul meant because when he first came to Philippi, he delivered a demon possessed girl, which landed him in prison. What did Paul and Silas do? They worshipped God and sang, despite the pain from being beaten and chained hand and foot. What happened? God delivered them and the Philippian jailer and his whole household were saved! God orchestrates the circumstances in our lives to make us like Christ and to give us opportunities to witness for Christ.
Note the word ‘confident’ in verse 14. Paul continued to boldly proclaim the gospel even though he was chained to a Roman guard. This in turn led to other Christians becoming confident to proclaim the gospel. What does God want us to do? Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” We who are saved have the responsibility to preach, proclaim and share the gospel with confidence! Why? Because, “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16)! What is the gospel? 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 teaches that the gospel is good news; it includes the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. We are to tell everyone we can about Jesus Christ. We sow and water, but God gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:5-7)! Jonah 2:9 says that “Salvation is of the Lord.” Just as Paul told the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31, we too are to share the good news– “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”. So Christian be confident like Paul and keep sharing the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ. Tell them Jesus saves (Romans 10:9-10). Paul says in Philippians 1:15-17, that some preached Christ out of envy and strife and some from goodwill. Paul did not get upset, because he was single-minded, wanting above all else, for Christ to be preached.
Christ, and HIM preached was preeminent in Paul’s thinking. Some were with Paul and some were against him, but look at verse 18. “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” Paul was single-minded. He rejoiced that Christ was preached so that others might be saved. Christian, what do you care about? Is it about the proclamation of the gospel? I pray it is! When it’s all said and done, only what we have done for Christ will last. One day in heaven may we be able to say, as Paul said: “For what is our hope or joy or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For you are our glory and joy (I Thes. 1:19-20).” May God use us to faithfully share the gospel as God draws His own to Himself.
Christian friends be single-minded. Do not let circumstances hinder you from confidently sharing Christ in 2015.