In The Latter Days
15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
(Philippians 1:15-18 LASB:NKJV Bible)
Here are some of the commentary given through the Life Application Study Bible:
1:15-18 Paul had an amazingly selfless attitude. He knew that some were preaching to build their own reputations, taking advantage of his imprisonment to try to make a name for themselves. Regardless of the motives of these preachers, Paul rejoiced that the gospel was being preached. Some Christians serve for the wrong reasons. Paul wouldn’t condone, nor does God excuse, their motives, but we should be glad if God uses their message, regardless of their motives.
1:16 Paul could have become depressed, discouraged, or disillusioned. He could have wallowed in self- pity and despair. Instead, he regarded his imprisonment as being appointed by God. In fact, God had used Paul’s imprisonment in Rome to bring the gospel to the center of the empire, as well as to give Paul lots of time to write letters that would one day end up in the New Testament and give us much teaching and encouragement. Do you have difficulty accepting your station in life? Do you resent where God has placed you? Although education and focused effort may enable us to take a new role or get a new job, often God puts us in a place to serve. Whether it is an actual prison or a place that feels like one, God wants you to serve him faithfully and joyfully.
(Philippians 1:15-16 LASB:NKJV Study Notes)
Today, we are seeing or at least “hearing” about many who have selfish reasons for preaching the Gospel. Many today have placed themselves as judges of those who have questionable motives for propagating the message of the gospel. The Spirit of the Lord says that we should be careful how we judge for with what measure we judge others, that same judgment will be measured toward us.
2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you
(Matthew 7:2 LASB:NKJV Bible)
I would like to encourage all of us to adopt the same attitude that was in Paul the apostle, one of deep humility. Also, I would like to encourage a further study of this attitude on display for us in God’s word through Paul’s life. We can still learn something that we need to learn about HOW we are to view the misdeeds of others. For where in our own lives are WE without fault? Let him who is WITHOUT SIN cast the first stone.
I have been noticing a trend in the various places I visit on the internet where some have become emboldened to speak out against those they perceive as straying from the faith. In fact, one website has a list of those they perceive as teaching a false gospel. This “trend” is permeating the rank and file across the Body of Christ and not only are the leaders speaking harshly against those they consider preaching a “false” gospel but their congregants are agreeing with this dangerous rhetoric as well.
You may ask, but aren’t we required to expose them?
Well, to try to answer this question, let’s look at what God’s word says about this. Noah got drunk after the flood and was found naked in his own tent by his youngest son who then told his brothers what he found. Instead of heading there to gawk at their father, these other two sons chose not to even look upon their father’s nakedness and walked in backwards to “cover” their father’s “shame”.
These other sons knew it was wrong to look at their father’s nakedness and later, in the law given through Moses, this was defined by God as being a sin. It was a test of the character of all three of Noah’s sons and two passed the test while the third failed and as a result of his failure, his children after him were cursed with a curse.
Another example can be found in Galatians 6:1 which says:
Galatians 6:1 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.
1 Peter 4:8 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].
Instead of rebuking the one who is sinning in the sight of all so that all may fear, they “send” their rebuke over the internet and in doing so, they create a “culture of hate” instead of one of love. Does this mean we are to “agree” with those who are seeking their own profit by not exposing them? No my friend. By not judging them publicly or even privately, we are showing God’s love and grace. The grace of God is not given to us so we can go out and expose the failures and sins of our brethren.
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the servants wanted to uproot all the tares but they were told not to but to ALLOW them to grow up together and in the time of the harvest the tares will be gathered together and cast into the fire.
The temptation today is to judge those we “think” are tares and expose them to “protect” the flock. That is not the way of the Lord. We are called to be as Jesus is, ministers of reconciliation and NOT ministers of judgment. We are called to continue in that work the Father has given to us, to preach, teach and making of disciples who will follow Jesus and not their own lusts of the flesh. By doing this, the sowing of LIGHT and not darkness, we are actually EXPOSING the unfruitful works of darkness without having to “point them out”. The LIGHT exposes what is in darkness. Preach what the Holy Spirit says to preach and leave these others to God and do not speak against them.
Another example is when David, while running from King Saul, had opportunity after opportunity to kill his enemy but refused to lift up his hand against “God’s anointed”. Sure King Saul “lost” his anointing but this did not persuade David that it was okay to come against his adversary. It was David’s mind and heart to let God deal with King Saul but never by his own hand.
Brethren, so should we all walk in the fear of the Lord as David did and not speak evil of those who are abusing their office for their own gain. Pray for them so that, perhaps, God will grant them repentance and they turn from their wickedness. Better not to speak at all if your speech is laced with judgment. Seek the Spirit of the Lord for HIS perspective and do not walk in your own or the perspectives and judgments of others, no matter who they are.
I’ve heard many who will quote what Paul warned in 2 Timothy 3. Notice how he mentioned two such men by name. Be careful how you interpret this. Some, seeking to justify their own judgments, speak the names of those that have strayed but what Paul did was to use those two as examples of how not to walk and the fact that God has already shown His own judgment regarding those two mentioned by Paul. Notice also, that he did not mention anyone by name who was currently alive.
In the same manner are we to speak as Paul spoke. We can use the examples in God’s word, and there are plenty to choose from, but not to speak of the living. We must remember the mercies of the Lord and He is not willing that any should perish but that all should be redeemed. We are to pray for our brethren and not to ostracize them or condemn them for if we expose their “nakedness” then what is to prevent us or our children from being cursed by God? As mentioned before, if we have no faults, no failings, no weaknesses and no sin, THEN we can cast our stones but if we have our own failings, let us not bring judgment against those for whom Christ has died.
Romans 14:4 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Who are you to judge the servant of another? Before his own master he stands [approved] or falls [out of favor]. And he [who serves the Master – the Lord] will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Understand, God will hold everyone accountable for their own actions, whether they serve themselves or serve God. No one will escape the judgment of the Lord. Only let it not be you who will have to stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ to answer for why you judged a servant of His. Let none of us walk in such a way to “spot” our garments but let us all keep ourselves “unspotted” from the attitudes and judgments of this world and walk in the Fear of the Lord and refuse to “look” upon the nakedness (sin) of another UNLESS God sends you to speak to them as He sent Nathan the prophet to expose King David’s sin. Notice, this was not done publicly but was done privately and as a result, David repented and this incident of David’s unfaithfulness to God was not recorded in the Chronicles of the Kings. Look for it and you will not find King David’s sin in either of the two books of Chronicles. When we seek forgiveness before God and receive it, it is as if we have never sinned for in God’s record, that sin was blotted out instead of our name being blotted out.