Paul pens Philippians while in prison. Instead of griping about his fate, Paul writes of how "his imprisonment has really served to advance the gospel" (1:12). The gospel is being advanced because his chains are encouraging others to share the message of Jesus. He recognizes the mixed motives of these "preachers." Some of them, in fact, are motivated by "selfish ambition" (17). What's Paul's response to all of this? A rather remarkable one in my opinion. "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way whether from true motives or false, Christ is preached, and in this I rejoice" (1:18).
Paul rejoices because the gospel is going forward. He could have complained about his chains. He might have attacked the deceitfulness of those who were using the gospel for their own gain, and, it should be added, seeking to harm him in the process. But his own condition is not important. What matters to him is the advance of the gospel. Christ is being proclaimed--and this knowledge gives him great joy.
Paul had a passion for the gospel. This passion flowed from his life-changing encounter with Jesus, and an ever-deepening love for his Lord. In his must-read book, MOVEMENTS THAT CHANGE THE WORLD, David Garrison notes that historically movements well from a "white-hot faith." Movements begin with a person who is radically transformed by Jesus, and now lives all of life in light of that reality. National church consultant Will Mancini speaks of how churches, more than anything else, need to be fueled in ministry by "redemptive passion." Paul burned with "white-hot faith;" he was driven by "redemptive passion." No wonder he rejoiced when the gospel went forth, even at great cost, discomfort and sacrifice to himself.
That brings me back to me. How much do I really want to see the gospel advance? One thing is clear: My passion for the advance of the gospel will be in direct proportion to my love for Jesus. I want my prayer to be simple and incessant: May I be increasingly infatuated with Jesus. May He increase more and more in my life, even as I joyfully decrease.