Written by Jennie Brackett
Scripture to Read: Philippians 1:15-26
The reality of my world for the last two months, has been inside the four-ish (I have an old house) walls of my home. This global pandemic has caused my family of five to share the same square footage. This includes three teenagers and two full-time, working adults. I am blessed to be able to continue my work remotely, as is my husband. My husband happens to be a teacher, so his days are filled with recording Psychology, Speech, and Computer Science lessons, and meeting with students. He is also the Tech Director for his district, and so is daily troubleshooting a variety of issues that have arisen with the advent of eLearning. My three teenagers, also in our home, are trying to learn as much as they can in this completely different world of learning. This situation has made one thing very clear to me, that dramatically different pandemic teaching styles have emerged. It has made clear the motivation, or lack thereof, to continue to engage our youth.
So, what does this have to do with Paul and Philippians 1:15-26? Motivation. What is the motivation of those who are trying to share the Good News? Is it with pure motives, or jealousy and rivalry, as mentioned in verse 15? Is it out of selfish ambition or sincerity? Can someone become jaded in their message and turn from the purity of it?
I had a pastor in my youth, someone I really looked up to and respected. As time passed, and I grew, I learned of some of the things that this pastor did that were not with pure motives, or living out the message of Christ. It became very hard for me to look past that. The teaching that is happening during this pandemic – are the teachers teaching with pure motives or has it been jaded by selfish desires – their intentions are becoming very clear to my children, and I pray they don’t become dissuaded by them. So too, we should be wary of our actions, and how they reflect us as Christians – the lives we are to be living out every day. Do those lives draw people to Christ or turn them away?
Paul tells the Philippians that he expects and hopes to never be ashamed, but that they should always be bold for Christ. That is a different kind of prayer, isn’t it – to be bold for Christ? Paul also says that he trusts his life will bring honor to Christ in life or death. He goes so far as to say that living is living for Christ, but that dying is even better and that he is torn between the two. Any selfish human would say that they want to live (and isn’t that all of us?). To say that dying is better is a hard concept to imagine. Paul goes on to say it would be much easier for him if it was that way. No wonder he says this, in light of his present circumstances! But he knows that it is better to continue to live – as living allows him to live the motivated, intentional life that shares the Good News to more and more. As we go about this day, let us live that motivated, intentional life that shares Christ’s message through our actions, deeds and words.