It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. Philippians 1:15. (EHV).
Tell me: how do you feel about others who have what you don’t?
A few days ago we talked about boldness, about how faith in Jesus makes one bold. I think it’s because He gives us peace, removing the unconscious ‘need’ to be right or to worry or to control. Jesus’ peace changes all that, and when those changes happen, our energies are freed up for other things.
Like boldness. Paul was in chains, literally living imprisoned for his faith in Christ. He had stood up for Jesus in front of Jews who wanted him arrested, beaten, and killed. That almost happened until Paul spoke up and reminded the crowd that he was a Roman citizen. As such, he was accorded rights and privileges to appeal his case directly to Rome. While awaiting his audience, Paul remained in custody. That meant he was, most likely, living chained to a wall or someone else or something static most of the time.
Tell me: would you envy someone who was in jail? Or would you envy them for the fame that landed them there? Some might say it was infamy, actually. But Paul was famous in the Christian world. He was the Pharisee who had converted, who became a follower of Jesus after a mystical encounter in the Syrian desert. Paul was the missionary who started churches all over Asia Minor, then mentored hundreds, maybe thousands, of new believers.
Tell me now: would that make you envious? If you were a contemporary of Paul’s, or a Jew, would you be jealous of the following this unlikely apostle had been given? Would you be envious of his gifts, of his personal history with Jesus, of his influence both with Jesus’ apostles AND all those new converts? Paul was indeed confident and bold in his faith; would that make someone else jealous? You know the answer.
Just like you know the flip side of that envy. The same people who would envy Paul all these things could easily choose to celebrate them instead. They could easily choose to be thankful God would pour out His grace into this man and his friends. They could choose to follow his example and be glad to know such a strong mentor and leader. They could choose boldness.
Faith can find us either jealous or grateful. Me and you, we aren’t much different from those people who lived back in Paul’s time. We feel the same emotions because we are human and we follow the same Jesus Paul followed. Paul was bold; perhaps you or I are as well in our own ways. Tell me: how will you boldly follow Jesus today?
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 1:8, Philippians 1:16
King Jesus, convict me of my envy and grant me Your peace and boldness to overcome it.