Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. 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 the 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. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Philippians 1:12-18 NASB
When I was reading this, I was reminded of Pastor Rob's series on Philippians about a year ago. It was earlier when Paul was with the Philippians that great powers of God were being seen including Paul's ground shaking escape from prison. Many who witnessed what was going on were becoming Christians because of these things. Now Paul is in a Roman prison and things aren't looking so good. Paul was encouraging the people of Philippi that things were still ok though, even being in prison, the gospel was being advanced and believers were now speaking more boldly and without fear because of His imprisonment. Some were preaching out of selfish motivation but that didn't even really matter. The only important thing was that the gospel was being preached. This was also when Paul wrote several books of the new testament and because of it, we today, 2000 years later are still benefiting from Paul's imprisonment. If Paul hadn't been in prison he quite possibly would have been so busy preaching the gospel that he likely wouldn't have had time to write these books. Such an interesting thought I had never heard or thought about before.
I think of today how it seems like things are going on that seem totally out of control and just when we think maybe things will start to get better, they get worse. Probably similar to the way the Philippians felt. I wonder if someday we will look back on all that is going on and see how, because of all these seemingly crazy times, the gospel was actually being advanced because of it. It's hard to imagine, sometimes, how anything good could come from all that is going on today. Still, just knowing that God is in control and that He has all authority, I can have peace knowing that in all things, His purpose is being fulfilled.
by Ken Edgerly