Did Paul Get It Wrong?

DID PAUL GET IT WRONG?

“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.” Philippians 1:15-18.

What a man! It’s that old incorrigible spirit of Paul again!

Why should he not be moping in jail and bewailing his fate at because of terrible injustice? Instead he was whooping it up because, while his hands were tied, others had taken up where he left off and, in the meantime, he was equally at work among the Roman soldiers right inside Caesar’s palace.

The very fact that Paul was sitting in jail for the “crime” of preaching Jesus, was a matter of interest to the palace guard. He would have attracted no attention at all had he been incarcerated for criminal activities but for defending his message that a Jewish carpenter cum rabbi in far-off Israel claimed to be the Son of God, was executed for His claim at the insistence of the Jewish hierarchy and was then reputed to have risen from the dead, was enough to arouse their curiosity.

On top of that, the man who was teaching these things, and those who followed this Nazarene, were unusual people. They rejoiced and celebrated instead of resisting when they were arrested, imprisoned and even executed for refusing to bow to Caesar as Lord. How could they when they knew it was a false claim? Not even the threat of death deterred them from their confidence that this Jesus was who He said He was, not even to save their skin!

In every other way they were model citizens. They stuck together in small groups. They were loving, caring and unselfish, sharing their food and possessions when they were denied access to the markets because they would not bow to Caesar. Belief in Jesus had spread like wildfire across the empire and no amount of persecution or attempts to exterminate them had deterred them. In fact, it seemed to be a powerful motivation for others to join.

 

Paul was not disheartened by the opposition. That there were people who were trying to make it harder for him in jail by preaching Christ, did not deter him. Imagine that! Using Jesus as a way of getting at Paul! What could be more despicable than that? Yet Paul knew that the message, preached for whatever reason, had the power to transform lives. While there were those who had wrong motives, others took up the baton and ran with it so that the gospel would be proclaimed everywhere, even if Paul were confined to jail.

It is tragic that there are many motives for preaching Jesus Christ today, even as in Paul’s day. Human nature has not changed. Money, as always is the biggest draw card. Some even speak of Jesus as a good “product” to sell. I wonder what He thinks about that! The most heinous motive of all is to make money out of Him.

There are popular preachers today who are rolling in it because of God’s “blessing” on their lives. They hold huge conferences to which thousands of people flock; they preach fervently that God wants them all rich; they sell their books and DVDs, garner huge royalties and revel in God’s favour. They live in million-dollar mansions, and give away ten percent of their income. They take from those who attend their conferences and attribute it to God’s “favour”.

This is the message they export to the world, even to those who live in poverty in third-world countries. What must their listeners think when it doesn’t happen? What about those who are losing their homes, their possessions, their families and even their lives because they follow Jesus? What about believers who are being beheaded in the Middle East even now because they love the Lord and refuse to become Muslim? Are they under God’s curse? What about Paul? What did he have to say?

“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:9, 10.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Luella Campbell


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