It is a blessed life we have as believers in Christ Jesus. Paul in Eph. 1:3, writes, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." You and I have the forgiveness of sins, we are now heirs to eternal life, our prayers are heard by God, we have the presence of God's Holy Spirit within us and we have a family of loving brothers and sisters known as the church.
Yet each of us will find that in this world we will have trouble (Jn.16:33). If we truly live a godly life, following the teachings of Christ we will face persecution of some kind. (2 Tim.3:12)
Sometimes we hear of brethren and missionaries in faraway countries who become martyrs for their witness to the Lord. While we know this is the risk that believers face daily in this sinful world, it still troubles us. When we ourselves are ridiculed or ostracized because of our faith, it can cause us to be less joyful. It's normal for us to desire acceptance and blessing over opposition and enmity.
Read Phil. 1:12-18. Still God uses opposition to accomplish His purposes in this world. Paul was very familiar with opposition and persecution (1 Thess. 2:2, 2 Cor. 11:24-28). Now as he was writing this letter to the Philippians, he was under house arrest in Rome. Waiting to be tried by Caesar. He was chained to a Roman soldier both night and day. He could not leave the house. It seemed that Paul's ministry was very limited. His very imprisonment seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle to his calling to preach the gospel.
But here in these verses we are told there was noteworthy fruit born of his house arrest and this made Paul rejoice. First, his preaching had been heard by the whole palace guard (1:13). Plus he had made some believers from the "household of Caesar" (4:21,22). Paul was still preaching and people were still responding to the gospel.
His continued work, even while under arrest had made other brethren in Rome more bold. (1:14). They were no longer fearful to preach the gospel in the capital city of the Roman Empire. So Paul also rejoiced in this fruit as well.
Ironically, there was a second form of opposition to Paul that had arisen, yet it still furthered the gospel. Look again at verses 15-18. In addition to bold men who were preaching the gospel because of Paul's example and from "goodwill", there was a second group of preachers. This group was preaching the gospel from "envy" and "self ambition", hoping to "add affliction to Paul's chains".
It seems they were opponents of Paul. Brethren who evidently were jealous of Paul's apostleship, his ministry and his success. Still Paul rejoiced! Why? Because Christ was still being preached. While they were jealous of Paul, they were still correct in what they taught. This stands to reason in light of what Paul stated in Gal. 1:6-8 about false gospels. Though under arrest, Paul rejoiced because the will of God was still being accomplished!
What are the things that steal your joy, oh Christian? Is your joy subject to your earthly circumstances? Do you need to be accepted and recognized to be a joyous Christian? True Christian joy is a product of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25) and not a product of our circumstance. Even when we are opposed, we like Paul should still rejoice! Phil.4:4
1. True or False, Jesus promised us a life free from trouble?
2. True or False, Paul's "chains" had furthered the Gospel?
3. True or False, Those who preached Christ from envy were preaching an incorrect or different Gospel?
4. True or False, Paul criticized those who preached Christ from "selfish ambition?"
5. True or False, There were no saints among the household of Caesar?
6. True or False, God can still work out His purpose in your life even when others oppose you?