The Reading: Philippians 1:12-18
“… my imprisonment is for Christ;” (v.13) RSV
All things work together for good, even imprisonment for Christ! We are not perfectly sure where Paul is in prison, but it matters not. The effect is the same. His incarceration may be unpleasant for him and frustrating too, but its benefits for others are manifold.
His testimony has gone forth to “the whole praetorian guard and to all the rest” (v.13). Paul never fails to grasp the opportunity to witness for Christ. Even his guards were subjected to the gospel. Do you remember when he had been thrown into prison in Philippi together with Silas, he sang hymns in the middle of the night, and when there was an earthquake and the prison guard was going to kill himself thinking the prisoners had escaped, Paul led him through to faith (Acts 16:25-34).
Similarly when Paul was on trial before Herod Agrippa and the Governor (Festus) he boldly spoke for Christ. And when under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16) he “welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ … “ (Acts 28:30-31). Paul was nothing if not bold; he used every opportunity to commend Jesus Christ. What a challenge for us in our daily lives.
Another benefit of his imprisonment was that the Christians had been inspired by his testimony and had become bolder in preaching the gospel. Maybe Paul’s powerful presence had stifled others, but now with him ‘out of the way’ they were coming into their own. Unfortunately not all were doing it from the best of motives. Some were doing it for “love” (v.16), but others were scoring points over Paul (v.15). Yet Paul is big enough not to be concerned about his own status. He simply rejoices that “Christ is proclaimed” (v.18).
We learn from Paul that everything can be turned to advantage if we trust in God and love others.
Forgive me, O Lord, when I grumble. Teach me to see the positive in every situation, and use it to your glory. Amen.
1 How did Joseph see his slavery and imprisonment in Egypt?
2 What did Paul learn in prison?