Warm Up Before the Hike
Consider sharing highs and lows of the week, and maybe share your favorite summertime memory from growing up too.
Welcome sisters to the mountains of God’s goodness and grace! For the past few weeks we have been traipsing through the book of Philippians, seeking to dwell closer with God and one another. Last week we learned about the joy of watching the lives of dear friends be transformed by the gospel and loving one another deeply. Deep friendship is an incredible gift from the Lord, and Laura’s post last week lead me to recall some particularly joyous friendships which have been saturated with God’s redemption, faithfulness, and goodness over the years. I encourage you to do the same! This week Paul shifted from pouring out his heart to a more exhorting progress report on his current imprisonment in Rome. I am excited to share with you the richness found in this passage about who we know Christ to be and how this knowledge transforms how we live!
12 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Observation – What does the passage say?
- Paul thinks his circumstances are being used to advance the gospel (v 12)
- Everyone in the prison with Paul, including the Romans soldiers working as guards, have come to know Paul as a Christian (v 13)
- Believers who are not in prison with Paul have experienced increased excitement and success in sharing the gospel. His circumstances have inspired fearlessness for the gospel! (v 14)
- Paul thinks that God still uses the message of those preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition (v 15-17)
Interpretation – What does the passage mean?
Paul easily could have used this time in prison to pout that he was suffering instead of “succeeding”. However, he is steadfast in his knowledge that his life is about the furthering of the message of Christ, not about his own comfort and worldly success. While his circumstances are difficult (he is stuck in prison while other preach out of selfishness in his place), he is encouraged by the understanding because the goal is for Christ to be proclaimed and taught. We see Paul be singularly focused on the advancement of the gospel for the sake of the salvation of those not yet saved by the unending grace of God.
Application -What does the passage teach me about God and me?
God didn’t waste Paul’s time during his imprisonment in Rome. It would have been so easy for Paul to sulk while watching his platform be stripped away from him while others preach from false motives in his place- I know I would have been very tempted to sulk in my cell! However, he chooses to see God’s sovereign hand moving, even in the hearts’ of the false teachers. We know from Romans 8:28 that God “works all things together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” and we watch Paul here walk out what it looks like to trust God when it doesn’t seem like God is moving.
Where in your life are you struggling to see God move?
Where are you tempted to proclaim hopelessness instead of clinging to the Living Hope?
God is our hope, our strength, our refuge. He is working all things together, so we can trust him when things seem bent out of shape.
Set a goal to rest in Philippians 1:19-30 for 15 minutes every day this week while moving through the spiritual rhythm of observation, interpretation, and application.
Continue memorizing Philippians 2:1-4. Adding on two new verses may seem intimidating at first, but memorizing sentences can be much easier than memorizing fragmented clauses. I personally have never been good at memorizing off of note cards, so I like to read the passage I am memorizing over and over and over again, and day by day it begins to be written on my heart. It is amazing how quickly Scripture integrates into part of your thought life and flows into heart language. I pray that those of you who share my similar restraint to memorization will find this method encouraging and successful!
This week let’s dwell in God’s love and freedom together- we are fully loved by our Creator even on our worst days. After all, this is what the book of Philippians is all about!