An Opportunity To Share the Gospel
Good morning. I’d like to spend a few moments in the book of Philippians with you. Let’s look at this passage:
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 1:12-14
The book of Philippians is an interesting book to contemplate in our present moment. Much of the heart of this letter is joy in suffering. Paul shows us a heart that rejoices in the Lord, even when the circumstances in his life are troublesome. At first glance, we may be taken back by much of his writing. “To die is gain” – what are you talking about Paul? No one wants death and yet you say that it is gain? But as we read the letter, we see the reason for Paul’s joy in sorrow. He values and treasures Jesus above all things. The reason that death is gain is that death means he is able to go and be with Jesus forever! Even when his health is at risk, he lacks money, and he doesn’t have any liberty, he is able to have joy because he has Christ! Everything else in life is rubbish in comparison to the exceeding worth of knowing and loving Jesus.
I wanted to start with the attitude behind the whole letter because it shapes how we look at this passage today.
Paul is writing this letter from prison in Rome to the church in Philippi (modern day Greece). He doesn’t know if he will live. And he wants to encourage the church with the letter. They would have probably been pretty discouraged to hear that the missionary they were praying for and supporting had been thrown in prison.
But Paul claims that his imprisonment has actually been used to advance the gospel. It has done this in two ways. First, Paul has the opportunity to share the gospel with the prison guards. He never would have had the chance to reach these men had he not been chained to them. Second, his imprisonment has given others confidence in the Lord to boldly share the gospel. How did Paul’s imprisonment give others confidence in the Lord? Because Paul showed them that Jesus is enough in all circumstances! He values and treasures Jesus more than anything. Even in the loss of all things, Paul finds joy in having and knowing Christ. This example gives confidence to others.
Paul used his imprisonment as an opportunity for the gospel.
Over the past few months, the corona virus has caused a lot of suffering. It has placed many people in very difficult circumstances. It has probably affected your life in one way or another. In the midst of these circumstances, how can we see this an opportunity for sharing the gospel? How can we show others that Jesus is what we value and treasure more than anything else in life?
I encourage you to think about this and ask God what opportunities there may be in your circles for the gospel to be spread and shared. I miss being with you and look forward to the day we can all gather again!