Historical details aside, what does this say to us today? Put yourself in Paul’s situation; would we be so bold? Would we be able to stop feeling sorry for ourselves long enough to stay on purpose? Do we ever stay on purpose when things aren’t going our way? Has it even occurred to us that we should have a purpose?
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 defense 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.
Paul has been telling the Philippians that he is rejoicing because as a result of his imprisonment the gospel is being preached in Rome, and now he continues his thoughts on that subject. It would seem that there are people who are preaching the gospel with impure motives, that they would like to stir up trouble for Paul. He hasn’t told us exactly how this would happen for him, so I will leave the speculation to others, but let’s be honest; there are those today who preach for the wrong motives as well.
I have seen and heard of some who preach out of envy and competition, have you? I have seen some who simply can’t stand the thought of anybody else serving Christ in that way, who are always afraid that someone might replace them or their ministry. Maybe they are afraid for their job or their position, or maybe they just have a sense of inferiority. Whatever the reason, they are only good “team players” if everyone else is on their team. It’s sad; really, for it should never be this way in the Body of believers, for all of us are on His Team! Most that I have seen, however, serve out of goodwill. As Paul has noted here, they serve out of love for others. As Paul put it, they know that he was put here for the defense of the gospel. Yes, isn’t that why all of us are “put here”?