These verses reveal two main themes to Paul’s life and ministry. While he was in prison he could have been worrying himself about his own condition. Instead, his concern was for the proclamation and exaltation of Christ by any means necessary.
That Christ Is Proclaimed
“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.” – Philippians 1:18
While Paul was in prison and vulnerable, some stepped into the void to continue the spread of the Gospel. Others had selfish motives and took advantage of the situation. It is possible they were preaching Christ for their own renown and to gain their own following. Paul’s response to this is awesome! He simply rejoices that Christ is being proclaimed! The point here is that Christ is the star of the show, not any minister or preacher. Paul’s goal in his preaching ministry is the proclamation of Christ, not his own personal fame or following.
Too often we judge preachers on their following. We notice whether they can wow a crowd or if they have great stage presence. Paul makes it simple. Are they proclaiming Christ? Then rejoice!
On a personal level, this reveals that Paul does not want the fame for his ministry work. Do you? How often do we serve Christ or His church in some capacity then feel chided because we didn’t get the credit or appreciation we thought we deserved? Paul sat in prison rejoicing because Christ was being proclaimed, regardless of who got the credit. When I desire credit and attention for ministry work I am revealing my real motive. I didn’t do it for Christ. I did it for me. Is your whole goal to proclaim Christ? Or do you want a little recognition too?
That Christ Is Exalted
“according to my earnest 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 1:20
Not only did Paul show concern about the glory of Christ through what he does or doesn’t do (the active part of his ministry). He is also concerned about Christ’s glory through what is or is not done to him (the passive part of his ministry). He is saying, “I am not so concerned with what happens to me as I am with whether Christ is exalted through it.” If he lives it will be with boldness because he lives for Christ. If he dies it will be with boldness because he died for Christ. And his concern is not for the living and dying, but for the glory of Jesus’ name.
Christ can be just as much exalted in the way you live as He can in the way you preach. In fact, if the two don’t match up you are in danger of bringing reproach instead of exaltation.
What if we lived like this? What if we had within us a raging fire that would see Christ exalted regardless of what we had to endure or whether we would get the credit? The world cannot stop that kind of Christian! Satan trembles at the thought!
May it be so.