Verse of the Day Devotion.  Philippians 1:12

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,” Philippians 1:12  

This is a very powerful verse, for it shows Paul’s thoughts on what is really important. He was in a Roman prison, a place that was not where anyone wanted to be for the harshness of the guards was well known. But look at what he says. “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel. so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,” Philippians 1:12-13. Paul was more concerned about the gospel spreading throughout the land then the fact he was imprisoned. And because of this, he did not mind where he was, or what he suffered. In fact, because he was there, many who would never have heard the truth were given the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was able to witness for Christ among the Praetorian guards, who were in charge of the prison where he was confined, and who also, in their turn, were on duty in Caesar’s palace. Paul says that, through his being in bonds there, the particulars concerning his imprisonment were talked about even in the imperial palace, and by that means the gospel was made known to many in Caesar’s household.

Next, we see, “and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” Philippians 1:14. Because he was in prison, many had been persuaded by his imprisonment to be more daring in their proclamation of the word. They understood that calling attention to the faith might expose Paul to ridicule and abuse by his guards and might even prejudice his case. But they also know that he has been appointed for the defense of the gospel and is prepared to suffer in its cause. Charles Spurgeon gives a great image of this. “You have sometimes seen a widely spreading oak tree cut down, and you have missed its grateful shadow. Yet afterwards you have discovered that many little trees, which would have been dwarfed beneath its shade, have grown more rapidly in its absence.  In like manner, the removal of some eminent servant of the Lord Jesus Christ has frequently made room for others to spring up, and more than fill his place.”

Next, we read, “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.” Philippians 1:15-17. It seems that even in Rome there was a party which was jealous of the influence Paul had, and they thought his imprisonment was a good opportunity to diminish his influence and to strengthen their own cause. But Paul did not let this upset him, for he was confident that over time it would succeed. It is desired that all who preach Christ should preach in a right spirit. But even if they do not, let us be glad that Christ is preached anyhow. Again, Charles Spurgeon illustrates it so well. “You have, perhaps, sometimes seen a little fire kindled among the dead autumn leaves, which are dank and damp. You have noticed that, despite all the smoke, the fire has continued to live and burn. So it is with the eternal truth of God. Notwithstanding all the error with which it is often damped, and almost smothered, it will live, and the truth will conquer the error that is piled upon it.”

In closing, we may go through difficult times, but who knows why God allows or orchestrates it. He knows everything and allows some things to happen for an overall good. Paul was in prison, and it gave him the opportunity to share the gospel with the prison guards, and ultimately to the imperial palace through them. Many Christians have been imprisoned for their faith, which gave them the opportunity share the gospel with those imprisoned there, along with the guards and anyone else they had contact with. And sometimes, things happen to us in order for someone to see God working through us. Be at peace, for as one of my favorite verses states, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. We must trust Him that ultimately it will end with His will being accomplished. Remember, God’s calling to us is to preach the gospel and spread His truth to everyone. And if He knows hard times will make a positive difference, accept it, knowing these times will eventually go away forever.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

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