Devotional #8 - 3/27/2020
From Meaghan Jenkins
Philippians 1 (pt.2)
Philippians 1, Part Two
“To Live or Die: Christ Be Magnified”
12 I want you to know, dear ones, what has happened to me has not hindered, but helped my ministry of preaching the gospel, causing it to expand and spread to many people. 13 For now the elite Roman guards and government officials overseeing my imprisonment have plainly recognized that I am here because of my love for the Anointed One. 14 And what I’m going through has actually caused many believers to become even more courageous in the Lord and to be bold and passionate to preach the Word of God, all because of my chains. 15 It’s true that there are some who preach Christ out of competition and controversy, for they are jealous over the way God has used me. Many others have purer motives—they preach with grace and love filling their hearts, 16 because they know I’ve been destined for the purpose of defending the revelation of God. 17 Those who preach Christ with ambition and competition are insincere—they just want to add to the hardships of my imprisonment. 18 Yet in spite of all of this I am overjoyed! For what does it matter as long as Christ is being preached? If they preach him with mixed motives or with genuine love, the message of Christ is still being preached. And I will continue to rejoice 19 because I know that the lavish supply of the Spirit of Jesus, the Anointed One, and your intercession for me will bring about my deliverance. 20 No matter what, I will continue to hope and passionately cling to Christ, so that he will be openly revealed through me before everyone’s eyes. So I will not be ashamed! In my life or in my death, Christ will be magnified in me. 21 My true life is the Anointed One, and dying means gaining more of him. 22–24 So here’s my dilemma: Each day I live means bearing more fruit in my ministry; yet I fervently long to be liberated from this body and joined fully to Christ. That would suit me fine, but the greatest advantage to you would be that I remain alive. So you can see why I’m torn between the two—I don’t know which I prefer. 25 Yet deep in my heart I’m confident that I will be spared so I can add to your joy and further strengthen and mature your faith. 26 When I am freed to come to you, my deliverance will give you a reason to boast even more in Jesus Christ.”
Remember from yesterday where Paul is writing from? A dark and dingy Roman prison. I’m sure he’s hungry, tired, filthy, and tempted to feel like God has forgotten him and his faithful ministry in the Gospel. Why would God allow him to suffer like this? Doesn’t He want Paul out there, talking to people and preaching the truth? Wouldn’t that be a better plan?
Two outcomes from Paul’s imprisonment:
1. The guards in the prison and officials interacting with Paul know of Jesus and that Paul is there because he was sharing about Jesus.
2. Paul’s predicament has inspired other believers to boldly proclaim the good news about Jesus. Even some enemies of Paul are preaching the Gospel! And is Paul upset because they’re preaching for the wrong reasons? Nope. He’s just glad that the Gospel is going forth.
If Paul hadn’t been imprisoned, those guards and officials might never have encountered a follower of Jesus. If Paul had been there to carry on as usual, those other believers might never have had the boldness and faith to proclaim the truth themselves.
We cannot to presume to see the whole picture. God does things and allows things that we might never understand in this life (or the next). But we can look at stories like this in Scripture and know this is the God we serve. One who can use horrible things to produce good outcomes that work in conjunction with His overall plan (Romans 8:28). He is not surprised by any of our circumstances. He’s also not unaware or calloused to our pain. Just as a parent cries when his child falls and scrapes his knee, God grieves with us. And then He uses those undesirable things to produce fruit in our lives or equip us to minister to someone else.
The question for us as believers is this: Am I willing to suffer so that the Gospel can “expand and spread to many people” (v. 12)?
Are you ok with a temporary inconvenience or even a major life crisis if it means someone else gaining eternal life? I’d like to answer yes, but the truth is that most days I’d rather God save people some other way. Maybe one that involves me looking really wise and sharing just the right words to convince them of the Gospel. Why must I suffer or become less in order to show them Jesus?
Paul was preaching and people were being saved. Why did God interrupt that with a stay in prison? Perhaps because of what I already mentioned. The souls of those guards and officials. The growth of the other believers. Or maybe it was to protect Paul from becoming prideful, thinking he was saving people through his eloquence or remarkable heritage. There are many reasons we could think of, but the overarching idea is that we often (always) need to decrease so Christ can increase (John 3:30). Sometimes that means we enter into less than desirable circumstances. Many believers around the world face death every day, just like Paul. And he deemed Christ worthy of his life…or death. He knew God could and would ultimately deliver him no matter what happened. Even being executed was acceptable to him because it would mean being with Christ. He believed he was in a win-win situation. What a perspective!
While he was waiting to find out what God’s will for him was, he determined to rejoice, trust in the Holy Spirit and the Philippians’ prayers, and “cling to Christ”. He knew the Gospel would continue to advance, and he would not be ashamed. His primary goal was for Christ to be magnified!
Just as Paul was confident he’d be pardoned, I’m sure this quarantine will eventually be lifted. We don’t know when, but we can be sure that this will not last forever. Why do we long for our freedom? So we can watch sports again? So we aren’t limited and can go wherever we want, when we want? What was Paul longing to do when he was released? He wanted to return to the Philippians and “add to [their] joy and further strengthen and mature [their] faith” (v. 25). Even though he aches to be “joined fully to Christ”, if he remains on earth it would mean “bearing more fruit” and helping these fellow believers grow in the faith. It would mean more glory for Jesus, and Paul is committed to that even if it also might mean more suffering.
May our eyes be so fixed on Jesus and our hearts so occupied with magnifying Him that we truly believe He is worth our all: our free time, our futures & careers, our relationships, our suffering, and maybe even our very lives.
“No matter what, I will continue to hope and passionately cling to Christ, so that he will be openly revealed through me before everyone’s eyes. So I will not be ashamed! In my life or in my death, Christ will be magnified in me. My true life is the Anointed One, and dying means gaining more of him.” (Philippians 1:20-21)
Thanks for joining us for these devotions! Your Cru staff continue to pray for you daily, and we hope that these devotions have helped you draw near to the Lord during this season!
Here is a link to the Bible Project overview video of Philippians, if you want to check it out! Great resource - Philippians overview