The Truth

"It is true, that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out 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 motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance." Philippians 1:15-19 (The Books of The Bible NT)

There it is. The truth is there for all to see. Preachers have always had to rise above the motives and the man-handling of the message and the mission, by those who have been called to delver one and carry out the other. So much for restoring the purity and the piety of the !st Century Church in the contemporary version of it.

There are already plenty of hipsters and imposters, posing as preachers/ communicators who are busy re-branding the message, and reshaping the mission of the church in their own image.

Note to self: Pray for preachers who resist the envy and the rivalry and deliver the message and carry out the mission, filled with love and goodwill. They need it, and you need the practice.

Paul chose not to cultivate a spirit of resentment, though he knew there were those posing as his friends and preachers of the Gospel who wished him ill. For some reason, these rivals took some special pleasure in adding more weight to Paul's chains. He described them as "supposing they can stir up trouble for me." This was not prison paranoia running wild in Paul's heart. It was disgraceful behavior on their part. Where ever there is light, it always attracts bugs. These preachers were fruit-bearing, just fruit-flies. BIG DIFFERENCE.

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you”― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Paul's joy was rooted in The Spirit of Jesus Christ. He chose to rejoice that "Christ is proclaimed." (v. 18) This joy is not a foolish happiness over the fact that wrong-thinking people refused to do the right thing. Paul was no fool. His response was not the defeatist's passive-aggressive response of "Praise the Lord, anyhow." This hurt him, but he chose not to let it cripple him.

Joy is the capacity to remain calm in a crisis, by placing one's confidence in the strong arm and the sovereign will of God. Joy is based on a firm belief that there is no need to panic, until fear erupts on the face of Jesus. Joy comes from hitting one's knees, and refusing to hit the panic button.

Prayer keeps the fruit of joy alive, by praying for God's will to be done, in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Joy is The Spirit's salve for a soul bruised and bleeding from wounds delivered by friend and foe.

By praying, a believer refuses to wallow in self-medicated pity, but chooses to respond with uninterrupted prayer and praise. Joy is produced by engaging in both. Crises, and conspirators will always provides the manure. The Spirit always produces the fruit. Focusing on the former, rarely produces the latter.

When hungry hunters are out of bullets, they reload. Shooting and missing their target is never fulfilling. The smell of gunpowder will never satisfy the stomach. If hunters desire to eat, they must fire again. The RE-load.

When a person is out of joy, they must RE-joice. This is much harder to do than reloading a gun. A person who is without joy is usually the one who has been shot at by an assassin. Still, RE-joice!

Note to self: #2 You can't spell assassin, without writing "ass" twice. Don't be one.

Joyless people often know when they have been targeted by assassins or hit by a crisis, but they also know when they have missed the point. The loss of joy will leave a person vulnerable to misinterpretation of what is happening to them. Paul took heart in the one thing that mattered most.

"The important thing is that in every way, whether from motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,..."

Paul didn't just face betrayal, he replaced it with joy. Entertainment is the world's substitute for joy. It is like replacing salt water with pure water and expecting it to satisfy. The world is always thirsting for something new, or someone funnier to entertain them. Entertainment gets old quick.

Don't settle for the entertainment industry's salt-water swill. What it offers will never satisfy. At best it has the life expectancy of a fruit-fly.

Joy lasts longer because it has an eternal source, The Fruit of The Spirit. When faced with a crisis or a conspirator, choose joy. It loosens the chains. When you lose joy, don't settle for pity. RE-joice. Don't take up an offense. Take a knee. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!