15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice … (Philippians 1).
This is the greatest oxymoron I can think of: “preaching Christ even from envy and strife.” For, how in the world can those two things go together at all? To have Christ is to have everything — and yet to preach Him while envying another, or, to preach Him without having Him at all? To have Christ is to have peace — and yet to preach Him in order to cause strife, or, to preach Him without having personal peace in your own soul?
This is just another example of the depths to which man’s wickedness can plunge — hellish wickedness even in the midst of “preaching Christ.” If Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:25 ever fit a situation, surely it is here — “22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
Lord, thank You This Day for the ministry of St. John’s in “preaching Christ.” In whatever way we do it, may it never be “from envy and strife!” Amen.