be still and know
"What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice." Philippians 1:19
Drink Deep From The Well:
I have always wanted glasses. When I was in middle school, I purchased a pair of reading glasses at Wal Mart so I could wear them on the top of my head since I didn't really need them for vision. I guess in some way I believed they would make me smarter! Not sure if that really worked. I wore these glasses proudly on top of my head, but truly they were pointless. They didn't help my vision at all. I didn't utilize the purpose they were made. It wasn't until recently that I began having trouble seeing things far away. Road signs that were too far down the road were blurry. To make things worse, all my hours on the computer were causing me to squint and have headaches. My husband made me an appointment with the eye doctor and for the first time ever I actually needed glasses! The funny thing is, after wanting them for so many years, I often forget to use them when they are necessary. But when I do, I experience why they were made - to make life clearer.
As Paul sat in prison, he had two choices to make - sulk or celebrate. Glancing at his track record with suffering in 2 Corinthians 11:23-30, our human hearts tell us that he had every reason to sulk. Beaten, lashed, ship-wrecked, stoned, imprisoned, sleepless, starved, thirsty, and in peril and danger - the list goes on and on! Yet Paul had a different vision in his suffering; he saw Christ. Paul had put on "gospel glasses" that gave him new vision. Instead of seeing the hardship of the moment he saw the glory of the future. He celebrated the work that God was doing. Just like when I put on my glasses I can see clearly what is up ahead, when I put on gospel glasses I can see clearly God's good purpose in the suffering of life. Gospel glasses give us eternal vision. Gospel glasses give us a reason to celebrate in this life, in both the good times and the hard times.
The glory of the gospel is that bad things are made good through Jesus. God is in the redemption business. Paul's imprisonment didn't make believers go into hiding and it didn't hinder the work he was doing. Rather, it made Christ-followers even bolder to share their faith! In verse 14 Paul described that most of the brothers were "more bold to speak the word without fear." However, there was a problem. Some people were preaching the gospel to advance themselves and build their own kingdoms rather than the kingdom of God. Some were preaching out of "envy and rivalry" and some "out of selfish ambition." What was Paul's response to this? Joy. "Yes, and I will rejoice" (verse 21c). Paul rejoiced knowing Christ was being preached and that THE gospel WAS being proclaimed, no matter the motive behind the preacher.
My human heart used to struggle with these verses. Why would God allow people to preach the gospel for selfish gain? Our motives apart from Christ are constantly littered with sin. In Psalm 19:12-14, David prayed that God would cleanse him from his hidden faults and keep him from presumptuous sins. We often sin and don't even know it! But God is greater than our sin. He is greater than our efforts. He is God and He does what He pleases. He is more than capable of taking all forms of gospel preaching and making it glorify Christ. I love 1 Corinthians 1:25 where it says "for the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." We can rejoice because we know that God is greater and He will use all things to bring Him glory. Even imprisonment. Even suffering. Even bad motives in preaching.
In this we rejoice, that Jesus Christ is preached. The secret to lasting joy is Christ alone. Let's put on our gospel glasses and live life through the lens of His Word, striving with all we are and in whatever circumstance comes our way to make much of the name of Jesus.
Ask And Apply:
- How are you preaching the gospel each day? Ask God to reveal to you any hidden motives. Pray Psalm 19:12-14.
- How do you view suffering? Are you currently in a time of hardship? What does James 1:3-5 reveal about suffering and God's glory?
Today I learned:
When we put on gospel glasses, we see with eyes set on eternity rather than our present circumstances. The only thing that matters is that Christ is preached - He is the source of our joy.
today i will:
Today I will preach the gospel with my words. Christ should be the motive I share, teach, and worship.
Jesus, You alone are worthy of praise. Thank You for giving us gospel glasses to wear that give us eternal vision. We want to see You in all things. Be glorified in our preaching, walking, and living. Amen.