12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
Sometimes God’s way of accomplishing His purpose is not at all what we expect or would choose. Paul had always wanted to go to Rome to preach the gospel of Christ, but I doubt he wanted to be there as a prisoner. However, as he wrote this letter, he was incarcerated in Rome; awaiting a trial which would result in his freedom, further incarceration or even death. As a prisoner he was chained to a Roman guard most of the time and had no privacy, but that also meant for the two years he was imprisoned that these Roman guards heard him teach and share the truth of the gospel as he wrote and as he spoke with friends and others. As a result – the cause of Christ was made known throughout the whole praetorian guard. Paul was constantly around those of the household of Caesar and because of his case, the beliefs of this new “Sect” (Christianity) had to be studied and heard by the officials in Caesar’s court. PAUL WOULD HAVE NEVER HAD THIS OPPORTUNITY AS A FREE MAN! Think about that. Sometimes God’s way of accomplishing His purpose is not at all what we expect or would choose. Paul’s chains pioneered Christ’s cause in Rome. What happened to him – as difficult as it was – served to advance the gospel of Christ, and Paul’s response encouraged other Christians to be bold in their witness.
The next time you are in a difficult situation – before you blame God for the situation – or think it’s not fair – have a pity party – or get mad or resentful – maybe you ought to think about this passage. Sometimes we miss a great opportunity to be used of God to advance the cause of Christ because we’re too focused on our circumstances instead of the opportunity they might present. Paul didn’t rejoice in his difficult circumstances; he just rejoiced that in the midst of them he had an opportunity to be used by God to advance the cause of Christ.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 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,
Whenever God does a great work, Satan will always try to discourage it or discredit the person being used to do the work. Satan often uses others – who also claim to be followers of Christ – to discourage us. Not everyone has pure motives in proclaiming Christ, but Paul didn’t get discouraged by this either. He said “as long as Christ is preached – I rejoice!” Paul didn’t care what other people said about him or did to him – as long as the gospel of Jesus was being proclaimed. We need this same strength of character and humility, and in our churches we need to be careful not to criticize those we don’t understand or even know. The bottom line is that we keep the main thing the main thing – preaching Jesus Christ – and in this we can rejoice!