Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Paul’s relationship with the Philippian Church is filled with joy. Even in chains, Paul rejoices in the good work that they are doing. After witnessing Paul’s miraculous escape from prison in Acts 16, Lydia and the Philippians must have been hoping that God would provide another miracle. In this moment, as Paul faces the reality of his possible execution, he is still faithful to Jesus and gives us hope in death to be united with Christ.
This was the truth of life in the early Church. The first believers followed a man who claimed to be the son of God, a title that was normally attributed to the Roman emperor. Their existence was in defiance of absolute Roman authority. Another lesson we can learn from Lydia and the Church in Philippi about BEing the Church is to pray for bravery. Paul prays for courage under the threat of death. Many of Jesus’ original apostles were executed by the Roman government.While American believers do not face persecution today, we can still pray for believers throughout the world who do.
Pray: Jesus, you understand suffering better than anyone. You hear your children when they cry out in pain. We pray that you answer the pleas of your people in Afghanistan and throughout the world who are being oppressed. Teach us to be just as supportive of our brothers and sisters as the Philippian Church was to Paul. Help us reach out our hands and take care of your people. Amen.