“What then?  Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached—and I therein rejoice; yea, and will rejoice.”

Philippians 1:18

Never discount what you’re going through—particularly when you’re suffering because of your love and loyalty to Christ—and be slow to criticize when others are.

Paul was in a Roman prison awaiting trial when he penned today’s Manna.  He’d help start the church in Philippi on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:13-40) and then visited them again on his third journey (Acts 20:1, 6).  But, now he was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel.

Even so, the Philippian church sent Epaphroditus with financial assistance for him (Phil. 4:18) after having previously helped him twice (4:16).  While there, the faithful Philippian servant became quite ill and Paul helped in his recovery before sending him home with this Epistle in hand.

Evidently, some within the new church were disturbed over Paul’s imprisonment—wondering why God would allow such a valuable instrument as Paul to suffer so.  Perhaps their concerns lay more in their fear of suffering similar persecution; or, it could be they had difficulty reconciling God-sanctioned service with suffering.

Regardless, it’s clear there was friction in the fellowship.  And, Paul attempted to shed new light on the situation in this portion of his Epistle.  He first reminded them that his imprisonment had helped in the furtherance of the Gospel, not hindered it (v.12).  In fact, “many of the brethren in the Lord had grown much more confident and bolder in speaking the Word without fear because of his imprisonment” (v.14).

Yet, there was also turmoil because of what appeared to be ulterior motives by some who preached the Gospel (vv.15-17).  Apparently, some of them were quite contentious in their approach and even visibly envious of Paul’s relationship with the church (v.15a), openly criticizing the imprisoned Apostle’s way of doing things (v.16a)—which added to Paul’s mental, emotional and spiritual anguish over the new believers (v.16b).

Thankfully, there were also some who were preaching “out of good will and a heart full of love” (vv.15b, 17), which encouraged the aged saint.  How we should strive to do the same in our interaction with others—seeking to be a “raiser” (edifier) rather than a “razer” (one who tears down).

Even so, Paul would not allow himself to become embroiled in the controversy by supporting some and opposing others.  He knew the Heavenly Father is the only One Who truly knows why we do what we do (Heb. 4:12).  And, as he so wisely said, “So long as Christ is preached, I will rejoice and continue to rejoice.”  Amen and amen.

Dear Pilgrim, it’s easy today to get caught up into the “blame game” and engage in wholesale criticism of others, even though the Lord Jesus has warned us against doing so (Mt. 7:1-6).  False teachers don’t think twice about speaking ill of those in prominent positions (II Pet. 2:10-22); but we shouldn’t be one of them.  Instead, focus on Jesus.

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated November 17, 2009

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