Bars or Stars? What Do You see?

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Phil. 1:18 (ESV)

Paul was obviously trying to encourage the Philippian believers about his imprisonment. They may have been upset, or had become disheartened by the apostle’s situation.

But, Paul was a man who had tremendous difficulty trying to see the bad side of things.

No matter how hard he looked, he always seemed to see the bright side of everything.

A Pollyanna-ish type of faith? I don’t think so. He always admitted to what was happening, admitted to the difficulties the circumstances might be causing; but he always knew that “God causes all things to work together for good for them that love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Unlike me, or most folks I have dealt with, Paul wasn’t thinking that verse about the future. No. He found the good right NOW.

Notice the verse we are dealing with. He didn’t say something like, “Well, even though they have got it all wrong, at least somebody might get saved through their ministry.”


He said, “Christ is being preached.” This is what he saw and heard.

[Was he saying that about the Judaizers? Probably not, because they were preaching “another gospel.” (Gal. 1:8-9)]

Are there people out there who preach the Gospel differently than you? Of course. Does that make them wrong? Of course, not.

Please be able to make the distinction between preaching the Gospel differently and preaching a different gospel.

The Gospel is that Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our justification.

Everything else is addenda:

  • How I came to the Lord–free will or election.
  • When I was baptized–infant or believer’s baptism.
  • How I was baptized–sprinkled, dunked, or plunked.
  • Backsliding–secure or unsecure.
  • Jesus’ return–rapture or rupture.

We may base our ability to have fellowship on these things (it is still a character weakness to make these a basis of fellowship), but one can hold to a different opinion and still preach a pure Gospel.

I believe that is what Paul saw.

Even though there were impure motives for their preaching, it didn’t matter, because Christ was being preached.

But, this goes to the heart of Paul’s character. It was his depth of character that allowed him to do this, to see things in this light.

Apparently, he had forgotten how to take his eyes off Jesus. (Heb. 12:2)

As we go through this letter to the Philippians, we will encounter this more than once.

Paul is the one who is in dire circumstances, but he is the one who is doing the encouraging. Have you ever visited the sick and dying to be an encouragement, and you end up coming away encouraged by them?

Paul was in prison, but he looked through the bars and saw the stars.

What are you looking at? What do you see?

NOTE: This is the first in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Philippians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter one of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: and make it a point to visit everyday.

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