The Value of the Gift is not in the Box

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It is mind-boggling to me that a man of Paul’s fiery character could so easily say what is recorded for us in Philippians 1:15-18.

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ pout of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.”

Paul was the first in line to call out hypocrisy—he even rebuked Peter! In Ephesians, as in other places, he urges believers to “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).

It seems like a contradiction. However, while Paul is pointing out the obvious in Philippians, he isn’t he isn’t saying that these wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing should be exposed, he is simply saying that they exist and that their evil motives still take a second seat to the fact that the message of the gospel is delivered.

That’s a tough one. To expose evil in the messenger is to cast doubt on the message and that can cause sometimes irreparable damage. Perhaps that is why we hesitate to expose the evil in the first place.

The implications of Paul’s statement add weight to the importance of what Paul writes in Philippians 1:27: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” He will go on to carve out the details of what that looks like from the example of Jesus in Philippians 2.

The gospel of Christ, like liquid gold, deserves a container worthy of its value. Though we recognize, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:7, that we carry this treasure in “jars of clay” we also recognize that the “all-surpassing power” of God is promised to us to make sure that the messenger is a pure as he or she can be so that the value of the message is not diminished.

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