Friday, January 4, 2013

Motives and Messages

The letter to the Philippians saints written by Paul and Timothy was considered to be a thank-you note to the church for their support during Paul’s days in prison.  It encouraged the believers to follow the model laid out by Jesus Christ and to oppose those against Christ’s cross.  Paul reminded them that even though he was in prison, the gospel of Jesus was still being proclaimed, from those with love and those with ulterior motives.  That is the essence of the scripture for today’s lesson in Philippians 1:15-26.

He identifies two groups of preachers in Philippi and the world.  One group preaches out of envy and rivalry, while the other group preaches out of a spirit of goodwill and love.  Paul was well respected and loved, a master theologian and a gifted teacher/preacher, which may have been a reason some envied him.  We see situations similar to that today where preachers and congregations are envious and competitors of their peers in Christ.  Some preachers in Philippi may have seen Paul’s imprisonment as an opportunity to advance themselves, not the cause of Christ.   In verse 18, Paul wanted the Philippians to know that regardless of their reason, false or truth, he was rejoicing that the message of Christ Jesus was still going forward.

The words of verses 19-20 give credence to the power of prayer.  Paul knew that the prayers of the believers were effective and he was comforted by their spiritual support and the Spirit of Jesus Christ (the Holy Spirit).  Paul understood that Jesus, the supplier of salvation, would provide for his every need, when needed, whether in this life or in death, when he would meet Jesus face-to-face. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (NIV, 2 Corinthians 5:10).”  Paul eagerly looked forward to his trial (with all boldness).  It was his hope that he would not make the Lord ashamed of him.  “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels (NIV, Mark 8:38).”

In verse 23-24, Paul states, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” Paul considered being with Christ better than remaining on earth.  He did not view death with a sense of dread; but as a doorway into the presence of Christ.  But he was convinced it was not his time to die; since the worshippers in Philippi needed his guidance and fatherly love for their continuing growth in faith and rejoicing in Jesus Christ. 

What are your thoughts regarding this passage of scripture?

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