What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.
A positive purpose has the power to give you joy in the face of unfair criticism. When your purpose in life is God-centered, you’ll be amazed at how little you care about what other people think about you. And that was true of Paul. Paul knew some people were preaching Christ like they never had before. But Paul was a realist too. He realized some people were preaching Christ not from the purist of motives. Look at Philippians 1:15–17: “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.”
You see, there were two groups of Christians in Rome: those who were trying to advance the cause of Christ and those who were trying to advance themselves. Before Paul made it to Rome, there was a group of Christians there and they thought they were doing fine. Then all of a sudden, Paul comes on the scene and gets all of the attention. Some church leaders were jealous and said things like, “If Paul were really appointed by God, why is he in prison? Why did God allow this to happen to him?” And they started preaching Christ even more vigorously, trying to even win more converts to outdo the apostle Paul.
What was Paul’s attitude toward that? Was he jealous or bitter about his mistreatment? Look at verse 18: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.” In other words, Paul was saying, “As long as Jesus Christ is being proclaimed, I don’t care what their motives are. My life purpose is being served. People are coming to Christ.”
Now I don’t want you to misunderstand this. Paul is not saying that as long as somebody talks about Jesus, it really doesn’t matter what they teach. In Galatians 1:8, Paul makes it very clear that doctrine does make a difference. But the people Paul is talking about in Philippians 1 were not teaching an impure gospel. Instead, they were teaching the true gospel with impure motives. So Paul said, basically, “In that situation, as long as they are teaching the truth, whether it’s to get under my skin or lining their own pockets, I really don’t care. Let God deal with them for that. But as long as Christ is being proclaimed, I rejoice.”
Make a note of this: when you have a positive purpose, you don’t really care about unfair criticism of you as long as Jesus is being glorified. You understand that your purpose in life is to spread the gospel and glorify God. That takes the spotlight off you and puts it back where it belongs–on Jesus Christ.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Power of a Positive Purpose” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.