Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defence of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.
Why do you believe in Jesus Christ?
Paul recognises that some Christians’ personal agendas cruise far from the shores of altruism. Instead, they hold darker, and more nefarious, purposes for proclaiming the arrival of God’s rule. Paul goes against the long-standing tradition of naming-and-shaming, and refuses to “call them out”. Instead, he sees the bigger picture and celebrates that Jesus is being proclaimed.
But why do we believe? Is it for genuine reasons of piety, or is self-interest hidden within the folds of faith? Most of us probably oscillate somewhere between the two, thankful that God puts his divine treasure in us – these very earthy “jars of clay” (2 Cor 4.7). But it is clear that Paul is swaying a particular direction, excited about the unique mission opportunities that custody brings.
Without words, Paul appeals us to live out our faith at a higher level. He appeals to us to trust God despite opposition to his Kingdom’s rule – even if it is coming from our fellow believers. This helps us to move through the very human reactions of such maltreatment and trust in God that his plans are, indeed, coming to fruition.
Dear Jesus, wherever we find ourselves may we be reminded that we are not alone. You sit with us.
Help us not to become bitter to others who seek ill-will to us. Instead, help us to respond in love by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Transform us to continually seek the higher purposes of the Kingdom of God. Amen.
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