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Mixed Motives in Ministry

Philippians 1:15-18a
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 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. (NIV)

It is strange that some of God's people can pretend to love while practicing hate, and even stranger that God might use them. Paul's imprisonment in Rome had opened a whole new debate about Jesus. Not only did it provide the church with new opportunities in personal witnessing, but Christians who were gifted to speak publically found a new platform before an eager audience. Although some identified themselves with the Apostle Paul and spoke out in support of him, others appeared to forget their spiritual family roots: they tried to compete against Paul, who experienced a bizarre hatred from such preachers.

It seems that they wanted to make themselves look bigger or more spiritual than the Apostle, or were trying to avoid being put in the same prison. In order to gain validity for their ministry, they denigrated his. To Paul, the contrast between those with wholesome motives, and those who were seeded with envy, was so great. But greater still was the unique power in the gospel itself. For the Apostle, the most important thing was that the truth about Jesus had to be released. Even the negative publicity Paul received from some preachers just drew attention to the fact that he was in prison because he preached about the living Jesus.

Obviously Paul would have preferred to have been supported (and he certainly did not commend his detractors), but he understood that his ministry was not to promote himself ... it was all about promoting Jesus. And Jesus is promoted when the gospel is preached, even by people whose motives are clearly wrong. So, although Paul could not enjoy fellowship with them and suffered from their slander he was glad that more people were hearing about how to find salvation. Perhaps this principle may help in dealing with people, at work or church, who speak about Jesus with wrong motives. Rejoice whenever Christ is promoted!

Dear Lord. Thank You for the gospel through which I came to know You. Help me to bear with the folly of those who use the gospel to promote themselves, but to pray that people will come to know the truth about Jesus, wherever He is preached. For Your glory's sake. Amen
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© Dr Paul Adams