Paul is writing the book of Philippians from jail. We already mentioned that. But it is crucial! To read this book without seeing Paul incarcerated is to go on a nature walk with your eyes closed. You may hear wonderful sounds but you are missing out on all the beauty. Paul is awaiting trial before Caesar. This would be a trial of Paul’s beliefs as well as His actions.
However, Paul was so bold in the ministry of the Gospel that even when imprisoned for his faith he was sharing his Lord with his captors. The guards were witnessed to regularly. The workers in the prison were constantly exposed to the message of Jesus. The situation was not great but Paul had had worse. He was not being beaten or abused he was basically under house arrest. As far as Paul’s track record goes this was the nicest imprisonment he had faced. So, why does he say that some are trying to cause him distress?
Well, Paul was bold in his witness and the fact that he was so bold even while in prison made others bolder in their witness. Paul was rejoicing in the fact that the Gospel was being preached with greater boldness. Unfortunately, there are always those who love to stir up strife and make people miserable. It was that crowd that decided if preaching of the Gospel made Paul rejoice then maybe if they did it in a given way maybe they could make Paul suffer.
Paul tells us that these people preached Christ out of strife and envy, with selfish ambition so that Paul would suffer. It is Paul’s reaction that amazes me. If I may paraphrase Paul says, “I don’t care why they are doing it I simply rejoice that Christ is being proclaimed, because Jesus being preached will always bring me joy.”
People were taking what Paul loved most and making a mockery of it. They were trying to cause pain, but Paul knew that in the end it was Christ that came through. And because it was Christ that was being proclaimed it was still good. Paul looked past the motives and the intents of people and saw the work he loved continue.
So what in your life is being meant to cause you pain? Turn it into praise! What is being said about you that is not true? Rejoice that your light makes the darkness angry! In short, when your heart should be breaking, Rejoice! It will give you the means to share the reason you have to rejoice –Jesus!