Philippians 1:12-14,18b-20 ESV
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
The Apostle Paul was being persecuted for his walk of faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord, and for his preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and because he exposed the lies and the false teachings and the false teachers, too, for what and who they were. Sometimes he was beaten physically, and at least once he was left for dead, and there were times he despaired of life and he thought he and the others would not survive, but the Lord carried him through one persecution after another so that he could keep on preaching the gospel message.
In this particular situation he expressed how what had happened to him really served to advance the gospel, for it became clear to many people that his imprisonment was for Christ. And as a direct result of that, many of his Christian brothers gained confidence in the Lord by Paul’s imprisonment, and thus they were more bold to speak the word of God without fear. Praise the Lord! Glory to God! That is an awesome testimony of God’s grace at work.
And then he had some people who evidently were trying to compete with him for the affections of the people. But they were not teaching the gospel in sincerity, but out of envy and rivalry and out of selfish ambition, thinking to afflict Paul in his imprisonment (see Philippians 1:15-18a). Now, I don’t know about you, but I have always had a difficult time grasping this concept, especially since he indicated that these people were indeed teaching the truth of the gospel, for if they weren’t, he would be warning people against their teaching. Yet, here is a possible explanation of this:
But whatever that situation was, it appears that it was related to Paul being in prison, whether or not they were the cause of it. And although it was not a pleasant situation for Paul to be in, yet he rejoiced because it was having a positive impact on other believers in Jesus, and it was instrumental in the spreading of the gospel, and that was a good thing. And Paul felt confident that this was all going to turn out for his deliverance, and that he would continue to have full courage, and that Christ would be honored in his body, whether by life or by death.
Can You Relate?
So, can you relate to Paul’s experience in any way? Are you now or have you ever been persecuted for your walk of faith in Jesus Christ and because you are (or were) sharing the gospel of Christ with others? Or because you were standing up for truth and righteousness and against evil? Or because you were just sharing what the Lord was teaching you through his word? And have you had others speak evil against you either to your face or behind your back? And have you been falsely accused of what you did not do and of what you did not say? And then were you judged falsely accordingly?
I have been, multiple times, and by others who profess faith in Jesus Christ, and by pastors of churches, and due to no fault or wrong of my own. Now, I am not saying I never did wrong, but these persecutions took place when I was following the Lord in obedience, and because I was following the Lord in obedience, and because I was speaking the truth and not the lies, and because I was sharing what the Lord was teaching me, and because I was standing up for truth and righteousness and against evil, and all within the boundaries given to me and not in rebellion against authority.
I was told by one pastor that I should wait until I had gray hairs on my head, and then people would listen to me (I was in my 30s at the time). I was told by another pastor that I should let him be God’s voice to me. And he said that he was warned about people like me, i.e. “people with strong convictions.” And then he invited me to leave, and he said he would help me to find someplace else where I would be a “better fit.” At another church our whole college ministry was asked to leave just because the church staff didn’t like us, and for no other reason, although we submitted to them.
Another pastor didn’t like something I said in an intimate group of women where it was supposed to be that whatever was said there stayed there. And he banned me from the church property. And there I was standing for what was upright and pure, and against evil. And I was giving godly and biblical counsel to this group of women. Another pastor did a non-denial denial thing with me, and when I asked him to explain his intentions, then I got called to meet with the session, but I had to first admit that I lied, which I could not do, and so they put me on church discipline for not telling a lie.
And some of you reading this may be thinking, “Oh, she had to have done something wrong.” No, I didn’t. And you don’t have to do anything wrong these days to be rejected by church leadership or to be invited to leave. And that is because so many “churches” have gone the way of the world and they are following after marketing schemes and business techniques on how to grow their “churches” (businesses). So, if you are following the Lord Jesus, and if you are sharing the truth of the gospel, and if you are in one of these market-driven “churches,” you will not be accepted, either.
Now, going back to what Paul said about how what happened to him served to advance the gospel, the same has happened with me. For, after all this church persecution I faced over a span of about 30+ years, the Lord then called me to this present ministry of writing down what he teaches me from his word each day and then to place it on the internet. At first, it was mostly him teaching me what I needed to learn, and then it moved more to me sharing more of the gospel, which is now going out to people of many nations throughout the world via the internet. All glory to God!
But that doesn’t mean the persecution has all ceased. It is still there, from different sources, and it seems to come and go in waves, but God is good, and he is seeing me through every one of these difficult experiences.
An Original Work / August 15, 2012
Based off Psalm 27:14
Wait for the Lord; be of courage;
Be strong and take heart today.
Do not fear when foes attack you.
Trust in God always.
He will rescue you in times
Of trouble and distress,
He’ll comfort you in all ways
As you trust Him with your life today.
Trust in Him always.
God is with you; He’ll not leave you.
You can always count on Him.
He will fulfill all He promised
Before you began.
His word teaches you
All that you need for this life.
Let Him lead you. Open your heart;
Let his truth envelope you today.
Listen and obey.
Love your Lord God; follow Jesus.
Repent of your sins today.
Make Him your Lord and your master;
Trust Him and obey.
Follow Him where’er He leads you
In His service; be His witness,
Telling others about Jesus’
Price that He did pay
For your sins always.