What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. – Phil. 1:18 KJV
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The biblical book of Philippians is one of the four books that are supposed to have been written by the Apostle Paul while in prison in Rome, the others being Colossians, Philemon and Ephesians. He had obviously been imprisoned for being an apostle of Christ, a message that remained a threat, not only to the Pharisees but even to the Romans who felt his message was encouraging insurgency against their administration as he kept referencing the coming back of a king who was going to run a government that they felt was going to challenge their authority and control.
However, despite the massive controversy that surrounded the message of the Apostle Paul, there were many other people that were feasting on this message. The name of Jesus was promoting many to new leadership positions, giving them recognitions that they never thought they could have and in some cases, enriching them – Acts 19:11-20. For this group, they do not necessarily believe in the idea of a Messiah coming from somewhere but found out that publicly associating with his name brought them great advantage that they probably never thought they could get. Information must have gotten to Apostle Paul in prison about the rapid spread of the message of Christ amongst the people but he refused to be carried away with the belief that it was an indication of the level of acceptance of the message. It is with this conviction that he must have made the pronouncement that is the foundation scripture of today’s devotional.
In the three verses preceding this scripture he had highlighted the following as possible reasons why the message seemed to be spreading.
1. For him, some have taken the decision to preach message because of envy and strife. For those in this group, they preach out of contention and not sincerely supposing that their actions will further infuriate the relevant authorities and so add affliction to the bondage of the Apostle Paul – Phil. 1:15,17.
2. Some are preaching the message with good Will. They do this out of genuine love for the message and in their bid to continue to propagate the gospel just like he did – Phil. 1:16,18.
In today’s foundation scripture he expresses his joy that the message is being preached irrespective of the reason for it being done. As far as he was concerned, what mattered was the spread that the message was experiencing as demonstrated by the number of people that were genuinely giving their lives to Christ.
Similar situation exist in our world today as the rate of spread of Christianity is unprecedented. Just as Jesus Christ instructed during the commissioning of the disciples for the work of evangelism, the good news is actually being preached to all creation (Mk. 16:15) but unfortunately, it does not appear that similar level of success is achieved in getting people to believe. Acts of baptism are been carried out in a simulated manner as those to be baptised hardly understand what they claim to believe sufficiently, for them to manifest the evidence of having been baptised, which is spiritual empowerment and assurance of salvation – Mk. 16:17-18. The result is a large number of Christians who seem to live a life that is not different from that which they lived before encountering the Word.
In some instances, attempts to give the impression of being truly born again make the preachers encourage acts that border more on deceit and lies. All kinds of babbling in the name of speaking in tongues are on display just as very doubtful miracles are peddled at gatherings of so called believers yet there is so much ungodliness on display that negates the claim that the true Word is actually spreading.
The Apostle Paul cared less about the preachers because irrespective of the intention behind their actions, the fruits of their work in terms of increasing number of true believers was obvious and was enough consolation. It is doubtful if same can be said of the converts of today’s preachers making any one curious about what is being preached. Just as the Apostle Paul, it is not for anyone to judge the intention of the preacher but that should not stop the preacher or anyone for that matter from carrying out an assessment of the effectiveness of what is been preached with regards to the product of the act and their effect on Christianity as a whole. It may not be possible to force a doctrine on an individual or a group but there must be enough in the conduct of the product of preachers for them to be described as born again Christians. Indeed, Preachers need to ask themselves what or why they are preaching as it will be assumed that just as the Apostle Paul expected the Crown of Life for what he rated as a successful mission, any preacher of the Word will have similar expectation, but how possible will that be when the products of the preaching are assessed, after all, it is by their fruits that they should be known – Matt. 7:16-20. What is the Preacher today expecting? Paul could identify the product of his evangelism activities but can you identify any that is associated with your preaching or do you think that the Almighty God can associate any positive and commendable work with your preaching? If you are indeed preaching Christ for the purpose of spreading his message, you should no doubt expect a great reward but if not, there is the need for you to re-examine your ways, not because of the opinion of anyone but because of your own self. Just like Jesus Christ said, those who preach will be judged more severely (Jms. 3:1) because to whom more is given, more is expected – Lk. 12:48. Preach Christ with all sincerity of purpose as that remains the only way to ensure that your divine activities in this realm will not count against you before the throne of judgement.
May God help us to achieve positive works that will be counted in our favour on the last day in Jesus name. Amen.