What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. But not only that, I also will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my eager expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. – Philippians 1:18-20
While Paul was imprisoned in Rome, some members of the early church attacked his reputation because they believed his sufferings were an indication of sin in his life. Perhaps, they were direct descendants of Job’s three “friends” for, like these men, they misunderstood God’s purpose in suffering or how God could use Paul’s incarceration to achieve His purposes. The apostle needed to address these rumors floating among the Philippians (and no doubt widely in the region) without taking anything away from the gospel.
According to Paul, these detractors practiced false teaching and he clearly condemned them for their misrepresentations of his character. At the same time, Paul didn’t allow himself to become the center of attention. He managed to bring his observations of their actions back to the bottom line, which was the proclamation of Christ. Ultimately, Paul did not consider his reputation as important as Christ’s proclamation and did his best to put the focus where it belonged.
A good “litmus test” for any ministry is this: Is Christ proclaimed? Is Jesus the focus, goal, and ultimate end to the ministry? If it is all about us, then how can it possibly be all for Him.
Bumps are the things we climb on. – Warren Wiersbe