Lord in today’s challenging text help me to find guidance. Help me to see that though some people are doing things for purposes that we wouldn’t support You are still able to use them. Help me to see Your mission in the darkness, in the chaos of the world. Help me to see You re-purposing the things that we so often become offended and outspoken over. Help me to trust You are in control and don’t need me marring Your name over irritation about people who are doing things wrong. Amen.
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 selfish ambition, 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.
Paul notes in today’s passages that there are people who were preaching for proper motives. These people were doing it because they knew Paul had been imprisoned due to this news. They were out preaching and spreading the Gospel because they knew this was important enough for someone like Paul to do it even though it caused him to be arrested. So though there was a threat against those who spoke the Truth they were still doing it!
During a crisis or threat there will be those who stand up for the Gospel. There will be those who see it’s importance and push forward following the Spirit. These people will genuinely grow and flourish during these times. Though they may experience worldly loss they will receive massive spiritual riches.
However, there will be those who, like in this instance, will preach for secondary motives. The people Paul speaks about in these passages were preaching in a way that they knew it would exacerbate Paul’s punishment in prison. They knew that by utilizing the very thing Paul had risked his life for they could throw “fuel on the fire.”
It’s important to realize this truth: there will be people preaching for ill gain. In a situation like we currently find ourselves in there are many christian organizations who are providing software or services that churches are using. Most of them are genuinely trying to help, however some of them are likely to be doing it for ill gain. There are pastors who are going out of their way to disobey what their governing authorities have instructed and not based upon conviction from God, but from their “logic on how things should be.” They talk about how the virus isn’t that bad and they believe none of their congregation will be effected. There are just people who are doing what they are doing without proper motives.
It is our job to be wise and to evaluate the ministries we are involved with. It is our job to properly reflect God’s mission. However, like Paul says in verse 18 “whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice!” Though we should be evaluating those we are directly connected with we CAN praise the Lord that His Gospel is being spread around the world even more with the help of these “pretense” driven evangelists and business owners. Though some people are doing things for incorrect motives it is STILL allowing the gospel to spread even more rapidly.
God will often use those who seem unlikely to help His mission. We see this in Pharaoh, King Darius, and many other people within Scripture. God simply utilizes pieces of Satan’s plan to ultimately give God glory. Satan misleads someone, or plants someone with purely alternative motives but God is so omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing) that He can utilize those same people for His purpose!
This should give us rest and assurance: if God can utilize even those who seem to be against Him or just alternatively driven then God can use situations that are similarly based. God can bring together anything to further His plan whether it’s a person preaching for gaining money or a virus that isolates millions. Amidst all the craziness of life that we feel is insurmountable or not productive God is working out His sovereign plan. So whether the situation seems grim or great we can confidently say “whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice!”
God help me to rejoice in times where it seems like Satan has bested You. Help me to realize that no matter what he is doing, no matter how elaborate and seemingly negative, it is just another opportunity for You to show us how You can turn things around. Help me to give You glory in the hard times because I know You are making a way. We praise You Lord because You are able to do anything within any situation, please remind us that today. Amen.
Remind someone these truths when they are complaining about preachers preaching for money alone. Remind them that God can use them just like He can use us. Remind them that even if they are preaching to gain money we can praise the Lord for the opportunity for the Gospel to still be spread for God is in control and is more clever than Satan could even be. Though Satan misleads people God re-purposes them!