Read | Philippians 1:12-18
During his confinement in a Roman jail, the apostle Paul wrote one of his most upbeat and encouraging letters. In this epistle to the church at Philippi, he used his less-than-ideal circumstances as an opportunity to model the right way to handle conflict and criticism.
It is clear from today’s passage and other scriptures that Paul had to deal with significant conflict, even among members of the church in Rome. Some people were upset that he preached to the Gentiles rather than exclusively to Jews. They also didn’t like that he taught salvation by grace and not law. Paul’s words reveal that some people were teaching the message with a very different motivation from his own.
Notice that he responded with a positive attitude. The tenor of his letter is one of encouragement and resolve. He did not lash out at his critics. Nor did he defend himself personally. He defended his message, the true gospel, but he did so in love and without harshness.
Paul stressed the bright side. He rejoiced because, whether the motive was sincerity or envy, Jesus Christ was being proclaimed, and the true gospel message was spreading. He was so concerned for the souls of others that he responded out of selflessness rather than selfishness.
Ask God to help you stay the course the way Paul did—even when your situation may involve controversy and criticism. The prison guards learned about the gospel from the jailed apostle. Your words and behavior can likewise reflect Christ to unbelievers you encounter.