Philippians 1:12-20

Read Philippians 1:12-20
God cares so deeply about your heart. More so than your actions, he wants to captivate you in the depths of who you are.
 
It can be hard to believe this though. During our childhood parenting includes many do’s and don’ts. Behaving outwardly appears to be what matters most. Even in our jobs, as long as we complete tasks on time and do our work, we’ve done what is expected of us. Sports set the same precedent. You could have all the intention in the world of playing at a high level, but it’s what you end up doing that speaks the loudest. Yet beneath all of these actions, we have motives, attitudes, and hearts. That’s where God wants to work and change us – from the inside out.
 
In Philippians, we get a glimpse of someone who has experienced this heartfelt change. The very man who wrote this book had previously purposefully killed and persecuted followers of Jesus, yet today, we read of him being persecuted and put in prison for preaching about Jesus to others. The only explanation for this is that God did a work in this man’s life – God changed him.
 
God didn’t stop there either. When Paul went to prison for sharing Jesus with others, he kept going. All the guards started to hear about Jesus, and fellow brothers in Christ were encouraged to speak about Jesus with more boldness. This doesn’t make sense! Why would someone do the very thing that could potentially put them in prison? God had so radically moved in their hearts that they realized sharing Jesus with others was worth it. It was worth the risk of going to prison or potentially being persecuted.
 
Sharing Jesus is still worth it. Today, one of our greatest temptations is to blend in with those around us, to just coast. In a country that isn’t blatantly persecuting followers of Jesus, it muddies the line between those who are truly following Jesus and those who are just outwardly along for the ride. It’s easy to fool people, but it’s impossible to fool God. He knows your heart. He knows what is really going on in your thoughts. Maybe you’ve been one to just go along for the ride but be encouraged.
 
Not everyone who started preaching more boldly once Paul went to jail preached with pure motives. Even though some were seeking self-promotion, God still used them and Paul was very aware of this.
 
‘But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.’ Philippians 1:18
 
God is so gracious and so loving that even when our hearts are not in the right place, he is working in us and through us. And when our hearts are in the right place, it’s because God is working in us and through us.
 
God, would you please soften our hearts? Change us from the inside out. Use your Spirit to remind us of your love for us, and may it motivate us to share Jesus with others. Bring us to a place where we can say with Paul, ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.’
 
Questions for reflection:
  1.  How is your heart doing? Is it in a place that is moldable and soft towards the Lord? If not, why do you think that is?
  2. When have you last shared Jesus with someone? This doesn’t have to be with a stranger – it can be as simple as a time you talked to your kids about the Lord.
Garrett Crown | Student Ministries Associate 

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