Philippians 1:12-18, 12 I want you to know, brothers,t 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 rivalry, 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 (ESV).
The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the church in Philippi while he was in jail in Rome. Paul takes a human trial and turns it on its head. He makes imprisonment an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Imperial Guard. People in Caesar’s household and guard are exposed to the Gospel. What a refreshing way to view a trial, a setback, a tribulation — as a way to further God’s Kingdom. Others of the Christian faith have become even more bold in their testimony because of Paul’s imprisonment. Even those that want to make Paul feel jealous are doing God’s will. In the end Paul is rejoicing because the Gospel is being proclaimed.
In our twenty-first century way of thinking the worst that can happen is that our lives experience set-backs or trials or tribulations. We become sick, we have financial or job troubles, we have relational issues with family members. The Apostle Paul puts these in context for us. These are times we need to look for what God wants us to do in these situations. Are these times when we can shine for Him? Are these times when the message of the Gospel can be advanced? Or are we worried so much about our own comfort and happiness that we miss opportunities to speak and live for God? Let’s follow Paul’s example the next time we hit trials and roadblocks in our lives.
Father God, although we may not be able to welcome difficulties in our lives, help us to see them as opportunities to advance Your Kingdom. Help us to keep our wits about us so that we can be used by Your Holy Spirit to see Your Kingdom advance. I pray these things in Jesus Name, Amen!