In Philippians 1:15-21 Paul expresses the facts of ministry as he sees them. He sees some preaching the gospel to win souls. He calls that good will and says their preaching is out of love, desiring that all would be saved and be eternally free in Christ. He also sees those who preach the gospel out of love of self, for self-gratification, self-gain, and self-glory. He calls that selfish ambition and realizes that they can, by their words, stir up trouble for him even as he sits in prison. However, Paul does not hold their actions against them as he rejoices that the name of Christ is proclaimed and trusts in God’s plan and sovereign control over all circumstances. “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’s continues reasoning that though the prayers of fellow believers and the power of the Holy Spirit, he knows God will be victorious and his place with Jesus is assured. “Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul knew no matter what, he belonged to Jesus! He knew the support of fellow believers through their powerful prayers and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit were essential to his surviving in his Roman prison. Either in death or in life, he would be victorious in and through Christ.
How is it that Paul was so assured? Paul relied upon the character of God and His Word. He undoubtedly remembered Joseph’s statement of God’s principle in Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Or perhaps his own words given by the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:28 “ And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Or Jeremiah’s words in Jeremiah 29:11-12 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Paul was a student of scripture and knew for a fact the truths about God’s character revealed throughout the Bible. He had learned to draw upon them for strength, clarity and assurance. We too need to open His Word and dig deep to replenish our joy, see our hope clearly, and gain strength and assurance. Our Sovereign God is bigger than Covid 19 or any other circumstance we face right now or in the future. Be assured like Paul that no matter what, you and I will be victorious in Christ!
My joy is increased:
- I know God is Sovereign and will use all things (people, places, circumstances- yes even the Corona virus) to achieve His will.
- I know God has my back and has good plans for me as I serve Him, therefore, I will trust in Him.
- I know that prayer is essential for survival and brings encouragement and resolve to believers.
Let your joy be in our Sovereign God today. Trust in Him!