Summary: Many people say the biggest problem we face in the church today is an integrity crisis. It may surprise a lot of us that envy and rivalry and dissentions dates all the way back to the first century church. People preached because they wanted to exalt them
In the fifteen hundreds there was a protestant reformer in England by the name of Hugh Latimer. He was known as a great preacher of his day and he had many opportunities to preach. One of his opportunities was to preach before the King Henry VIII of England. He thought about his great responsibility to bring a message before the King. He also thought that the message that God laid on his heart was not the message that the King was going to want to hear.
As he contemplated this, he said that he heard a voice, Latimer, remember you are preaching before King Henry VIII who, if he wills, can take away your life. Then as he began to contemplate this, he heard another voice, Latimer, remember you are preaching before the King of Kings, do not displease him.
Latimer had a struggle with motives. Would he preach what man wanted to hear or would he preach what Christ would have him preach. Latimer chose to preach what Christ would have him to preach. Ultimately it cost Latimer his life.
Paul calls our attention to the area of motives. In our church there are things we seek to do as a people of God. We seek to spend time in God’s Word and to pray corporately and individually. We seek to meet the needs of people and give our offerings. We seek to take the message of Jesus Christ out. There are a number of things we seek to do in our service to Jesus Christ. But as we do these things there is something very startling we need to keep in mind. We could be doing all these things, but if our motives are wrong it will not bring glory to Jesus Christ.
Paul is writing the Philippians and telling them that there in Rome where he is in prison people are preaching the gospel with two motives. There are two camps. There are those that preach the gospel with false motives and those who preach the gospel with pure motives. Paul spoke about this during his imprisonment. During his imprisonment the Gospel was advancing.
There were people giving a clear testimony of Jesus Christ and it was causing a great boldness for Jesus Christ. That was not the whole story. While Paul was there in prison and there was this great boldness in preaching Christ there were two different factions, those with pure motives and those with false motives. For Paul, personally things were not going well. He was held in prison, waiting for a trial. But he could rejoice because the Gospel was going forth.
First we look at those with false motives. How did Paul know there were those preaching with false motives? Were there two groups out preaching the gospel, one group that wore white hats and another wore black hats, those with pure motives and those with false motives? Motives are something you don’t see with your eyes. We do not always know what the motives of people are. But Paul said there were those who preached the gospel out of envy and rivalry. He goes on to say they are preaching out of selfish ambition. Their aim was to stir up trouble for the Apostle Paul.
Now this is one of the most ironic things we could ever picture. Here are people out preaching the message of Jesus Christ. Preaching the gospel of peace, preaching the gospel of love. They are preaching this great gospel of peace and love and their motive is envy and rivalry. Can you imagine out of envy and rivalry they are preaching a message of peace and love? That is what has happened. Paul said, Vs. 15, there were those who preached the message of Jesus Christ, “out of envy and rivalry.”
It seems, as Paul was in prison in Rome that there was a group of preachers that were well known in that area. They had been preaching the gospel and they had a following of people who looked up to them. Then, along comes Paul on the scene when he is put in prison there in Rome. All of a sudden people are not so interested in these preachers anymore. People are talking more about the Apostle Paul in Rome. Some of these preachers now have envy and jealousy toward Paul. It seems that these preachers were giving a doctrinally correct message. Their one problem was their motives.
They preached with false motives.
In their preaching they probably preached against Paul saying he is in prison so you do not need to listen to him. They tried to lift themselves up while putting Paul down. It may surprise a lot of us that envy and rivalry and dissentions dates all the way back to the first century church. Believers there were preaching from wrong motives.