Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Philippians 1:12-30

Paul was certainly no "fair-weather" Christian. He didn’t withhold his preaching until he found an audience that would be receptive to it. He didn’t couch the gospel in terms that would allow a little leeway in its true meaning so as not to offend those who might disagree or believe differently. And he didn’t allow the threat of stoning, flogging or imprisonment intimidate him into silence. No, in all ways, Paul was fully dedicated to proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.

It is rather ironic that Paul is writing to the Philippians from prison in light of his earlier imprisonment by the Philippians themselves. You may recall it was in Philippi that Paul and Silas were flogged and imprisoned when, around midnight as they were praying and singing hymns to God, an earthquake occurred which loosened their chains. Paul used this opportunity to baptize the jailer and his family.

Now we see Paul is in prison again. He could have complained about the injustice he is suffering, that of being jailed only for proclaiming Christ. He could have reminded the Philippians of his imprisonment at their hands for no better reason. But in his graciousness and devotion to spreading the Gospel, he is using the worst of circumstances to advance the Gospel.

Not only does he rejoice in the fact that others have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly, but he encourages the Philippians to do the same. Even in his encouragement, though, he doesn’t pull any punches. He tells the Philippians in verses 29 and 30 that not only has it been granted to them on behalf of Christ to believe on Him but they will also suffer for Him since they will go through the same struggle he (Paul) is.

May we hear these words as if they were spoken directly to us so that we, too, may never be called "fair-weather" Christians. And may the words Paul wrote so many years ago be your prayer and mine this day and always: "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted…"

In His service,
Mark Vereb

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