A Joyful Imprisonment

This devotional is written by Josh Anderson. Josh is married to Charlotte.

Philippians 1:12-30

Paul's Chains Advance the Gospel

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually 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 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of 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, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Life Worthy of the Gospel

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.


Read verse 21 again: 'to live is Christ and to die is gain'. Loads of reflections on this passage focus on the future, where we can look forward to no suffering and to live at the throne of God. What a promise. What they skip over is the challenge of living as Christ - the fundamental part of our work on earth.

Paul challenges the Philippians here and throughout the rest of the letter to continue to spread the good news of Jesus. To pursue intimate relationship with Him and to bring it to others. To lay down those things we hold onto that get in the way of our relationship with God.

Of course those things that get in the way are everywhere; just a cursory list of less embarrassing ones of mine might include Facebook, ambition, Netflix, or a need to be accepted by others (to name but a few). None are inherently bad, but can bubble up and take over if left to their own devices. It definitely detracts from our calling to be in close connection with God. Hold onto the way Paul boasts that his imprisonment is proof there is power at hand (v12-14). The fact that the Romans have seen fit to remove Paul from the general public demonstrates significant opposition is needed to silence just one man shouting on his own about Jesus! Ask God to show you a few specific areas where you are called to be more like Christ. Perhaps they're areas where you feel particularly opposed or embarrassed. Focus in on them and pray to be filled with the Spirit. Ask Him to empower you to live in your full identity as a child of God.

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