“I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents.” NRSV
Paul is writing to the Philippians from prison. Even there, the harsh life circumstances of an ancient Roman prison, the very real threat of death, cannot diminish his spirit, his love of God, and his proclamation of God’s good news in Jesus Christ. Nothing can bind Paul’s spirit when it comes to sharing Jesus Christ with the world.
No doubt, our isolation feels somewhat like prison in many ways. We are denied our normal comings and goings. Making a living has been abruptly halted for many leaving them no way to pay their bills and care for their families. Even the threat of death is very real for those exposed to this invisible enemy that has made “prisons” of own homes.
Paul’s message to the Philippians models how to find joy and bear fruit for the Gospel in any and all circumstances. It’s not what’s happening on the outside, that is, our present life circumstances, that determine our faith. It’s how the Spirit of God is at work and at home inside of us that matters. Faith is what sees us through all of the trials and tribulations if life. It’s “living in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” that overcomes all enemies and all circumstances. Paul even turns the threat of death into an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.”
In short, Paul reminds us “to keep the faith” in any and all circumstances in life. As we await our own liberation, let’s heed Paul’s counsel and “keep the faith,” to enhance our joy of living and loving through being a blessing to someone today!