Summary: Even in the midst of opposition Paul rejoiced because the Gospel was being preached.
1) Last week we spoke of the Gospel being advanced when we go through difficulties in our lives. When the Gospel advances we advance. When Paul was able to process his problems through acceptance and surrender he was able to receive divine power and perspective.
2) This week we will be speaking on The Defense of the Gospel.
The best offense is a good defense. In other words, if you want to win the game don’t let the other team score.
Even in the midst of opposition Paul rejoiced because the Gospel was being preached.
3) Do you realize you are a preacher? Your life preaches a message. You are the only Bible some will read. What message are they getting?
This morning we will be talking about attitude, latitude and gratitude.
I. Attitude – Attitude check – (We use to say that to each other when we were teens and someone had a bad attitude. “I’ll check it alright then I’ll check you”.) It’s time for an attitude check.
“15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.”
Illust – There is a story about George Whitefield and John Wesley, two of the greatest preachers in the 1700’s til now. They disagreed on doctrinal matters, very sharply. One person asked Wesley if he expected to see Whitefield in heaven. Wesley said no. The person replied, ‘You don’t think Whitfield is saved?’ Wesley replied back, “Of course he’s saved but he’ll be so close to the throne and I so far away that I will never see him. They disagreed yet maintained unity through Christ in order to advance the Gospel.
(Wiersbe - Be Joyful)
1) Paul was saying that there were some believers who were happy he was in prison. They were immature, loved strife, and were troublemakers …and they were preachers, ministers, good church people just like you and me.
We are the Body of Christ. If ever there was a loving, caring, kind, sincere, forgiving group of people it should be us, the People of God. How then can someone be preaching about Jesus Christ out of envy and rivalry? Paul said they’re trying to stir up trouble for him and wanted to tick him off. (Can you believe that?) So they preached Christ thinking Paul was going to get mad at them.
(Do you really want to get those kind of people ticked off? The next time they do something to get you angry just put on a happy face, say a kind word and walk away. “I ain’t got time to play that game!” Bless those who curse you.)
2) They preached out of envy. Envy is not being happy when one succeeds and you want what they have. You want their possessions. Command #10 – “Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, donkey, belongings, anything.” Be content with what you have and be happy for others. If someone gets blessed be blessed with them. “Oh they don’t deserve that!” What we’re really saying is “I deserve that!” “I wanna be the man!”
Rivalry – strife, contention, they are preaching Christ with the wrong motives. The word means one who is running for office, they want your vote and your support. “This is the day the Lord has made…(Hillary)” They want to be seen, recognized, patronized, pacified, glorified, ratified, homogenized. They want to be the one.
3) Application – Watch your attitude. What is your motive for doing the things you do in life and in church? To be seen, to be loved, to get someone’s vote, for people to say “Ooohhhh yeeeaaahhhh what an awesome person they are. What a solid Christian. He da man! She da woman! To be like that person.
Watch your attitude because even though God says He won’t share His glory with anyone we still want a bit of it, even if it is just a little bit. If you have a public gift like praying or singing or speaking or leading your flesh will want to be noticed, “Ooohh your good.” Then we start listening, “Yeah, I am aren’t I?”
Or we go the opposite extreme, “It wasn’t me it was the Lord.” Oh I think God would have done a better job than that.
4) Some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry. If we are living in the Last Days then this is not the time for churches to be fighting against each other. “Oh my church does this, my pastor does that, we have this speaker come in, ‘my pastor’s funny’, ‘oh yeah, my pastor is anointed’ ‘oh yeah no one can teach like my pastor’ ‘oh yeah you should hear my pastor sing”. Stop that malarkey (absurdity, hogwash and/or hot air).