#155 – ENVY AND RIVALRY (24/7/20)
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‘It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 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.’ (Philippians 1:15-18)
Paul is rejoicing in his imprisonment. Even though people are stirring up trouble for him through their preaching he is praising God.
Paul’s attitude reveals that he is trusting in the ability of God to overrule those who would claim to serve Him whilst actually serving themselves.
Clearly, these church leaders felt threatened by Paul and so were creating division against him. It’s easy to become leaders in the church for our own glory. We must continually open ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s searching of our motives.
We may not be suffering such opposition, however, it’s easy to become jealous and slanderous of churches and leaders who are doing better than us in some way.
Of course, there must be occasions when we must be critical of teachers and churches who are leading people into error. However, we must do so very carefully, humbling ourselves, being wary of the ‘selfish ambition’ that so easily creeps in.
May we be those who ‘preach Christ…out of goodwill…out of love’. Pray for the Holy Spirit to purify your motives. As Paul says later in this book, ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit…’ (2:3)
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY – ADVANCING THE GOSPEL
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Opener/Ice-breaker (Please could we all do this, this week)
Who were influential in your becoming a Christian and what good lessons could we all learn from them?
Introduction - please share in your group
God is advancing the gospel in the world. His plans to take the gospel to the ends of the earth are unstoppable because they are God's plans! God uses us as he used the Apostle Paul.
'Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.' (Philippians 1:12-13)
Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Paul’s life is full of great difficulty as he sought to follow Jesus and spread the message of the gospel. Paul saw the difficulties of his life as a means by which God advances the gospel.
What difficulties do you have that you might see as barriers to sharing the gospel?
How could you view or approach your challenges differently so as turn them into opportunities to share the love of Jesus?
'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.' (Philippians 2:14)
People's example is a great inspiration to share our faith more confidently. Those who are prepared to suffer in sharing the gospel are a particularly powerful example.
How are you doing at setting an example of sharing the gospel?
Discuss/share/pray in smaller groups:
1. What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about (maybe from Sunday's message or your bible reading this week)?
2. What will you do in response?
3. How can we pray for you?
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