Paul is writing the Philippians while in Roman custody after an extended imprisonment and disastrous trip to Rome. “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ”(Phil 1:12-13). Paul sees good in all his suffering because it has advanced the gospel. Now he has an opportunity to influence and teach “the whole imperial guard,” a group of soldiers he would have had no access to had he remained free.
He has also noticed that his imprisonment has had a positive effect on other Christians. “And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear”(Phil 1:14). Perhaps they are emboldened by Paul’s courage and example. Some of these bolder preachers “preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will”(Phil 1:15). Paul knows of a group who are preaching from evil motives, yet he decides that “whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice”(Phil 1:18). If people are preaching from corrupt motives, at least they are preaching! Rather than being discouraged, Paul finds reason to rejoice.
It is difficult to rejoice when we are suffering or when we are disappointed in others. Yet Paul teaches us to look beyond the surface of our circumstances and seek out the good. What is God doing? How is he blessing and sustaining his people? How can my struggles help others? It is a mark of maturity to learn to rejoice in the hard times.
------------- One Thing to Think About: Why do we sometimes feel that positivity is naïve?
One Thing to Pray For: Vision to see the good around us—no matter how disastrous the situation