Prayer– Father, help me to focus on You right now, and how and why to share You with others. Your love is great, and the need is real.
Scripture- 12 Now I want you to know, brothers (and sisters), 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.
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.
Thoughts to share– “What are YOU in for?” always seems to be the opening item of interest when someone is incarcerated. “Well, I didn’t do it,” whatever it was. Nobody who was every arrested admitted they did it, except for Jesus and his followers. “Yes, it is as you say…” (I am the Messiah, Matt. 26:64). Peter says in Acts 4:9-10, “ If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” Yup, we did it. Here Paul says that “it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” (1:13) What are you in for? Teaching about Jesus. Guilty as charged. I haven’t murdered, stolen, lied, broken the law in any way, but I HAVE taught folks about Jesus. That’s my crime.
Not only was that Paul’s crime, but it was clear to “the whole palace guard and to everyone else,” That THAT was Paul’s crime, the only reason that he was locked up. Not pick-pocketing; not leading insurrections, like so many Jewish nationalists; not even peaceful civil disobedience. None of the usual offences. His crime was teaching people about Jesus. Today, what’s MY crime? Would it be “clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else” that it is for teaching about Christ that I should be locked up? Would people even know I taught about Jesus? What am I known for? What are you known for?
“The important thing is that in every way…Christ is preached.” Today, in my life, IS that the important thing? I need to get my taxes done, and file for Medicare, and work on the sermon… And those ARE important things, plural. But what is THE important thing? Through all those things, and a whole lot more, through my actions AND my words, is Christ preached?
This morning, Nancy and I walked our dogs with 3 different women from our neighborhood. It’s kind of this social distancing social time that we have- for Nancy, every morning, for me…not so much…too early… I listened to Nancy proclaim Christ through her conversations- about dogs, about church, about the kids. She weaves it all through her conversations because that is just who she is. She preaches Christ to both sets of next-door neighbors, and I’m sure she will preach Christ to the folks putting in our fence in the backyard next week. As she has opportunity, Jesus gets introduced to the people in Nancy’s world. Many already know Him, and that’s always a neat thing. But you just never know, so she shares, in a way that is natural and a part of her, because it is.
Prayer– Heavenly Father, help me (us) to be so close to Jesus, that when people look at us and listen to us, they see and hear Jesus. If not, help us to grow into that relationship.