Philippians 1 v 12-18
The letter’s structure:
Greeting, Thanksgiving, Prayer, the Body, Moral exhortations, Greeting, Benediction.
A missionary Support Letter from God’s Apostle to the Gentiles.
Some wonderful lines of praise to God – especially in the second chapter.
The letter ties in wonderfully with Habakkuk we are considering in the mornings.
We see Paul’s joy despite circumstances.
Adversity is the wings that enables believers to rise above circumstances.
Paul was in prison and was experiencing persecution from people who were trampling him down. This is also happening in the western world, where we find ourselves locked-down and trampled down. Let’s learn from Paul how he used the prison and persecution as wings to rise up for a most lofty purpose.
- Paul’s imprisonment (verses 12 -14)
The readers knew that Paul was in prison, but he did not want them to pity him, because the Gospel was being proclaimed. He could have looked at the bad side, but he looked at life.
The Good News that was advanced is that Jesus died and rose again according to the Old and New Testament, He now reigns as Lord and Saviour and promises forgiveness of sins and Eternal Life to all those who repent and believe. That was what he was focused on.
Not only was it Good News in itself, but it was spreading!
How and why was it spreading?
a. Faith Priorities – The Gospel.
All of us are going to die – whether from a virus or something else.
That ought not to be our focus. The Gospel should be our priority.
b. Faithful Preaching
Paul kept on proclaiming the Gospel in spite of his chains.
His situation sparked interest and discussion.
What are we preaching and what are we posting on social media?
Will future generations see that we were faithful in this time?
What will happen to people chained to us in lock-down?
Will they be influenced by the Gospel, as was the case with the Apostle Paul?
c. His Fortifying People
Paul’s example caused other Christian brothers to become more bold and full of confidence to spread the Gospel.
He fortified them to follow his example.
- Paul was being persecuted (v 15-18)
Not only was he in prison, but he was being vilified.
They thought that they could add to his infliction, preaching to hurt Paul instead of preaching to elevate Christ.
We see Paul conquering all of this – his joy shining through the gloom, because:
(i) He did not lose sight of those who preached out of love and good will. He did not fall into the trap of self-pity and despair.
(ii) He could see that those who persecuted him were inadvertently spreading the Gospel. Since for Paul preaching Christ and Him crucified was the most important priority and purpose in life, he could find cause to rejoice even when Christ was preached by those who meant him harm.
Paul transcended adversity by turning these to things into wings to rise from and BY it.
What is the key to transcending by/through adversity?
a. For Paul it was making Jesus Christ the highest priority. If we do the same, we can experience joy unlike any other.
b. Magnifying Christ and His Gospel.
c. God even used those who had imperfect motives. He can also use us who are imperfect in our ability. Where we are lacking, He can raise someone else to supplement our efforts.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest example of rising through adversity.
He went from the cross to the throne, and He takes with Him a host of the holy ones. May we be not only like, but IN our Lord Jesus Christ.