I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 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.
Maybe you’ve said it: “All that matters is that you’re OK.” Whether it is after a car accident, a destructive tornado, a personal disaster, the idea is that what matters most is that we, personally, are unharmed. Others will say, “When you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything.” Neither of these are necessarily or universally true.
Paul is testimony to that; he was suffering, in prison, and being harassed by his enemies. Would he say that all that matters is that he still had hope? Or would he say that as long as he would one day be freed from prison all would be well? That would be the response of many. Others of us would say we would be OK once we got out, or as soon as our detractors lightened up on us.
Paul’s touch stone, however, was that the gospel was being proclaimed. Even if people were preaching Christ out of selfish ambition, he was not distressed. His only concern was that Christ was proclaimed.
If I examine my life, I’m not certain I can make that bold statement. I still have concerns for my family, my health, my grandchildren, and the church I serve. It’s not OK with me if these things are taken from me or if I seem them harmed.
I’m sure Paul cared about his friends and fellow believers. After all that’s why he wrote this letter to them. But he knew something from which we might all benefit. He knew that when we are brought close to Christ, all the cares of the world, the worries of this life, and distractions from eternal matters tend to lessen in importance. He realized also that when we are brought to the end of ourselves and our own ability to cope, there we most appreciate God’s goodness and love, his grace and salvation through Jesus Christ.
What matters most to you? Is that a worthy cause? Can you rejoice in the Good News of Jesus even in this moment?