The scripture for today is Philippians 1:12-19.
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
Paul was in prison waiting for a trial. That meant that he was chained to a soldier. This reading starts with saying that his imprisonment “has actually served to advance the gospel.” Can you imagine being a soldier alone with and chained to the Apostle Paul for a straight six-hour shift? Many soldiers, no doubt, became Christians as a result, and their influence began to spread throughout their entire unit, to their families, and beyond. Whether or not they became Christians, they all knew that Paul's imprisonment was because of his testimony for Christ, not because he was some kind of political prisoner. They saw in Paul the example of a person who was an unafraid and faithful witness. If Paul could be an effective witness despite the peril, so can we!
And then at the end of this reading Paul says: “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.” Rejoicing characterizes his attitude toward life, because he is confident that he is "in Christ," that Christ controls his destiny, and that he can rest in trust towards God. He is free to rejoice knowing that God is in control. But to the extent we believe that God is in control, then we can rejoice freely, we can be filled with joy -- even during our struggles. To the Romans, Paul wrote: "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28, NRSV)
Paul is confident that through prayers for him and the help of the Spirit he will be able to speak the word clearly and boldly at his trial. The goal is that Christ receives glory, or as Paul puts it, “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.”
Dear Lord, help me to filled with the spirit of Paul today. Help me to rejoice, no matter what struggles are presented to me today. Keep my mind focused on showing your love and grace to the people in my life.
Donna DeMauro firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayer Concern – Those in prison.