Thursday, 15 December 2016
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. Philippians 1:18
Care needs to be exercised when contemplating Paul’s words here. He was always concerned about proper doctrine. If someone gave an incorrect presentation of Christ, he would correct them. If someone gave heretical views of Christ, he would openly rebuke and condemn their proclamation. To him, proper doctrine was of the very highest importance. It is for this very reason that he wrote most of his epistles.
What he is speaking about here is the character of the person who proclaimed Christ. This is why he first asks, “What then?” He has just noted the difference in character between different heralds of the message. Some proclaimed it sincerely, and some out of selfish motives. To him, it didn’t matter what the motive of the person was as long as the message was Christ.
Today as then, and as in all times since then, there are countless people who preach because they know that they can profit off of those they preach to. There are those who preach Jesus because they love the adoration that comes with the job. There are those who preach because it keeps them from some other physical labor that they might loathe… whatever.
On the other side of the coin are those who preach “in truth.” They truly love the gospel message, and the benefits from proclaiming it are a secondary matter to them. The heart, full of love for Christ, is their motivation. And so Paul says, “Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached.” As long as they preach Jesus, the message is being proclaimed. The Lord will deal with the motives behind the preaching, but at least the message is getting out. For this he says, “…and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”
If there are people in a church with a pastor who is a great orator and a sound theologian, but who doesn’t really care about the message at all, who is harmed? Only the pastor. Those in the church are being fed, and they are unaware of the hypocritical heart of their leader, but God is. He will sort out the motives behind each person’s actions, and He will reward them accordingly.
Life application: If a person is teaching or preaching bad or false doctrine, we cannot rejoice in this. Instead, it must be called out. But if a person is preaching Jesus out of pretense, and yet their message is in accord with the Bible, let it go. We are not the discerners of the heart, and we may be wrong in our evaluation of the person. Stick to the facts; stick to doctrine; and hold fast to that which is in line with the Bible.
Lord, purify our hearts today. Take away the things which interfere with a close and personal intimacy with You. Keep us from greed, from the lust of the eyes, and also from the pride of life which step in and so easily take over. Help us to be content with our station, free of coveting, and humble in our hearts. Surely with these, You will be pleased. And so help us in this today. Amen.