Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.Yes, and I will rejoice. For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:12-20 (NASB)
Long passage today, but it has a purpose. As I was reading through Philippians today this was the first of many things that caught my eye, and it relates to how others see Christ in us, and how our reactions and responses point others toward or away from the gospel.
I recently had a horrible day at my job. My Facebook friends watched my statuses pop up one after the other, reading my words of grumbling and complaint. Not my finest hour, to be sure. I received much encouragement from my FB friends and prayer too!
When I returned home that evening I opened my Bible to Philippians and this is the passage that spoke loudly to my heart. I was deeply grieved and ashamed because I have to say that nothing about my response to the difficult circumstances would cause Christ to be known among unbelievers. Nothing in my words or actions would lead to “greater progress of the gospel.” I did not proclaim Christ, I did not mention Christ, I did not honor Christ.
This grieves me because I have a passion and a love for Christ and I desire to be a vessel used by Him in the lives of others. It grieves me because I had a wonderful opportunity to put Christ in all His glory and magnificence on display for the unbelievers at my job and I failed miserably.
Paul is my Bible hero and I wish I were more like him. Unfortunately, I am more Peter (the disciple with the foot-shaped mouth) than Paul. Paul’s life was spent for the purpose of giving the gospel to others and he was so highly effective at it! In any and every situation Paul presented Christ. Philippians was written from prison, just prior to his death and even there he is putting Christ on display. He did not only use his words, he used his life.
This is what grieves me so deeply about my sinful reaction to today’s circumstances- my life did nothing to put the glory of Christ on display. How serious will these unbelievers take me when I have an opportunity to speak into their lives about problems they may be having? How credible will my words be to them about the sufficiency of Christ and His ability to meet them in the need of the moment? Will they look at me and think that I am a person who shows grace in handling difficult situations and difficult people well? I don’t think so.
I know I will have other opportunities to respond differently, maybe even tomorrow! The responsibility before me now is to repent of my grumbling and complaining and to move forward in righteousness. My own heart issues were revealed in this matter and just like anyone else, I am obligated to deal with them. As Paul said at the end of Romans 7-
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 7:21-Romans 8:1 (NASB)