What’s Your Motivation?


Phil. 1:15   Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. 16 These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. 18 What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. 


Paul was in chains because of his love for Christ. When he encountered Christ on the road to Damascus, everything changed for him. He didn’t just embrace a faith, he embraced the author of that faith and fell deeply in love with Jesus. His passion was to know Christ and to proclaim Christ to everyone he could. 

In Rome, it appears, he encountered those who were not happy with him, or his preaching. It may have been that there were those who were already working in Rome, preaching, and Paul’s appearance in town may not have been welcomed. They had been the well-known authorities or preachers of the word and now, this stranger appears and seems to have more authority. Out of envy, or jealousy, they may have been preaching, but with the intent that it would get Paul in more trouble. That maybe, if they preached even more zealously, it would arouse the anger of the Emperor so that he would take out his frustration on Paul. 

Under house arrest, Paul has to contemplate what’s happening around him. He can’t get out. He can’t defend himself and he can’t believe that others who claimed to know Christ would behave in this way. One can only imagine that it took a time of deep personal reflection and intimate conversation with the Lord that he was able to come to his conclusion. The motives of these individuals were incredibly wrong. They preached for the wrong reason and they most certainly intended harm. 

Maybe it was after the initial anger subsided that Paul had to examine his own heart. He wanted people to know Christ. Therefore, whether the motives of the other individuals were wrong or not, he would not try to stop them from preaching. If they thought they would do greater harm to Paul by preaching, then he wanted them to go on preaching. Paul was not motivated by personal preservation, but by love of Christ. If, in any way, shape or form, Christ could be preached, then he was willing to accept his own fate. He chose to rejoice and refused to react to then as enemies of the gospel. His motivation was to know Christ, and that was more important than anything. 


It’s fascinating that those who intended to do harm, actually became agents whom God used to help Paul spread the good news. He was trapped and couldn’t get out into the city to preach. He did teach and preach every day from his chains, but I’m sure he also prayed about a way to bring the gospel to the city of Rome. He was able to rejoice that no matter what their motivation, the gospel was preached. 

This speaks to the power of the message and not the messenger. The good news about Jesus may be inadvertently spoken by those who think they are in opposition. God doesn’t waste these kinds of opportunities and therefore we should not allow them to become a frustration. That’s the point here, that we cannot allow what others do to derail us from our relationship with God. We must also live every day in the realization that the power of God is greater than our current circumstances. With Paul, we slow down, we take a deep breath, we spend time in prayer, and then we see the good in what is happening. We rejoice anytime Christ is lifted up. 

The heart will direct our actions. The contrast here is that Paul’s motivation allows him to see the good that can come out of this frustrating situation. Those who are preaching out of a wrong heart fail to see the good that their preaching is doing. The only “good” their preaching can do would be to harm Paul. They are blinded to the fact that the Holy Spirit is at work through their words and touching, transforming lives. It’s an odd contrast of motivations and actions and results. Yet, I would hope that we would want to find ourselves with a heart like Paul’s, whose motivation was to know Christ. If that becomes our motivation, we will begin to see, both the good and the bad around us, through a new lens. 

Paul had to take time to check his own motivations. When he finally discovered he was not seeking self-preservation, he was able to see that God could use bad, for good. We all need regular moments of introspection and soul-searching. It is there that God helps set things in the right direction, and gives us a sense of peace. 


Lord, may you be preached, and may my heart be always turned toward you.  Amen


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