Philippians | Day Three
By: Taylor Flatt
What has happened to you?
That’s a pretty broad question! But, how would you answer it? Though we might respond with a fun experience, most of us associate things "happening to us" with negative situations out of our control. Parents going through a divorce, moving away from home, or a loved one receiving a devastating cancer diagnosis seem to come to mind.
Today, we'll see what happened to Paul. Ultimately, he was thrown into prison for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. That’s a pretty awful thing to endure! However, in this next part of the letter, Paul says something we can all claim, no matter what has happened to us. It’s an attitude, an outlook, a promise we can hold onto. Bad things happen to all of us, but it doesn’t have to stop us from living a life filled with joy.
Read Philippians 1:12-13.
Paul says that "what has happened to him has really served to advance the Gospel" or the good news of Jesus Christ.
How did it serve to advance the gospel?
Because of Paul’s imprisonment, the whole imperial guard had come to know the name of Jesus! Now, think about my question earlier. Think about what has happened to you. Whether good or bad, God can — and will—use everything in our life to advance His gospel if we allow Him to!
Now think about it, do you really believe that? Why or why not?
Believing God will use your difficult circumstances does not make them hurt any less. It doesn’t always make them easier! However, trusting the Lord in the middle of any circumstances shines a light in the midst of dark situations.
I mean, obviously Paul was not excited he was in prison. That’s just crazy! However, Paul's pain presented others an opportunity to know Christ better. The love of Jesus anchored His joy.
Continue reading Philippians 1:14.
How did Paul's imprisonment affect his brothers in Christ?
Why do you think his imprisonment affected them that way?
Not only did many people hear about Jesus for the first time because of Paul’s imprisonment, but now Paul is telling us that his brothers in Christ were strengthened through this. In fact, Paul says that they gained the confidence to speak boldly and fearlessly about the the truth! Seeing Paul boldly stand for Christ and not back down in the midst of this trial gave other believers the courage to do the same. In spite of the threat of prison, Paul showed them his suffering was worth it.
You may have no idea how God is using your circumstances to encourage another brother or sister in Christ. But, I can almost guarantee the hardships you're currently facing are showing others what it means to cling to Christ.
Your perseverance is producing endurance in others.
Your joy is strengthening other believer's faith.
Let me encourage you with this sister: God can use whatever has happened to you to advance the gospel and to strengthen your brothers and sisters in Christ! And while that doesn’t mean it’s easy, it does mean it’s not worthless.
What situations are you going through right now that are painful? How might God might be using whatever has happened to you for His glory? How can you make His name known to more people through this trying time?
Who might benefit from hearing your story? When's a specific time someone else's story helped comfort or strengthen you?
Continuing on in Philippians, read Philippians 1:15-20.
What are the two reasons Paul says people are preaching the name of Jesus?
Paul acknowledges that there are those who preach Christ out of selfish ambition--those who teach selfishly for their own glory and not for the glory of God. That’s an issue that still persists today! Many of us know people who claim the name of Jesus, but don’t live in the name of Jesus. And that can be really hard to watch! But, even though it’s hard, we should choose to have the attitude of Paul rather than allowing it to frustrate us or cause bitterness in our hearts.
Read Philippians 1:18 again. According to Paul, how should we act when the name of Jesus is proclaimed by people
who we think have misplaced motive?
Yep, here it is again: rejoice. We should have joy. Joy because the name of Jesus is being proclaimed. And when that is our one goal we can rejoice when we see His name in lights regardless of the circumstance. It's important to note Paul is not trying to encourage inauthenticity. He is not declaring our motives don’t matter. Rather, Paul is saying we can’t control people’s motives so rather than choosing bitterness and frustration, let’s choose joy that His name is being proclaimed anyway.
Unfortunately, we ourselves can be the very ones who are proclaiming Christ's name out of selfish ambition. Sometimes we are the ones seeking glory for ourselves and not God when we use the name of Jesus. I believe we struggle the most with sharing Jesus with selfish ambition on social media.
Living in the world of social media can have particular challenges for us as women of God. Most of us talk about Jesus a lot on social media. And I love that we do that! We should do that. But when we post pictures of our Bibles or verses from our quiet times, we have to check our hearts. We have to have the right motives.
Name a time you know you posted about Jesus out of selfish ambition on social media. Why did you ultimately post it?
How can you guard yourself from wrongful intentions and pursue right motive on social media when you share about Jesus?
We can post things out of love for God and for people —to share the gospel with the world. Social media is an accessible platform we have. Where else could you send a message to that many people in one place at the same time? What an incredible tool for the gospel right at our fingertips!
For many of us, the last thing we see at night and the first thing we see in the morning is a newsfeed. So, we are left with a choice. We can fill our newsfeed with meaningless images and captions. Or we can use it as a way to spread words of life. Sisters, lets allow our lives and newsfeed to only be concerned with abundant life and vow to check our hearts while we do so!