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Philippians 1:17: The Former Proclaim Christ Out of Selfish Ambition

Philippians 1:17
[17] The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. (ESV)

I would love to believe that all preachers of the Gospel have a right heart and motivation when they preach. I would also be wrong. The Apostle Paul knew this reality very well. Here he was, in a prison cell for preaching the Gospel. There were preachers that refused to be supportive of him, but rather viewed him as being punished by God and that was why he was in prison. They cared about their own ambitions, instead of caring for their colleague and brother in Christ.

This attitude that we see in these selfish preachers is one that we all have to wrestle with. We look at someone who is going through a tough time and we make a judgment about them. They must be receiving punishment from God. We assume that God's blessing on a person's life means always having positive circumstances. This is terrible theology.

God has not called us to be judge and jury of our fellow brother or sister in Christ.  When they are struggling or hurting, we need to offer them love, encouragement and prayer. I am reminded of that godly man of the Old Testament, Job, was "comforted" by his three friends. We tend to laugh and say, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?". But, we need to be careful that we do not become those kinds of friends to others who are following the Lord, yet are in difficult circumstances.

Let's not be judge and jury. Look for those who love God and are hurting. Intentionally reach out to them with words of encouragement. Pray with them. Love them.


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