by the Rev. Andrew Kuyvenhoven
Philippians is Paul's love letter. The epistle is also a good instrument for learning the secret of this great man. Paul considered living Christ and dying gain. And, although he wrote from a prison cell, his refrain was "Rejoice in the Lord always."
I want you to know ... that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel (Phil. 1:12).
Here we have hit on the phrase that betrays the purpose of this remarkable man, Paul. His life's ambition is "the advancement of the gospel."
Nearly every healthy person sets some objective and goes for it. Some people want to get rich, or to have a comfortable house, or to get an academic degree. All is well with them as long as they keep coming closer to their goal.
The same is true for Paul. He's stuck in a hole of a prison, enduring conditions that most of us would find intolerable. Yet he writes as if all is well: "I want you to know that all the unpleasant things that happened to me really turned out for the advancement of the gospel. The objective is coming closer. My ambition is being fulfilled. So, don't worry about me. This thing advances the gospel! The guards are talking about Christ. And Christians who used to be lukewarm now speak the Word of God courageously and fearlessly."
It's like some friend of ours writing, "You heard that I have cancer, but don't worry. My disease has really advanced the gospel around here."
That's the way we're able to think when the advancement of the gospel truly becomes the central focus of our existence. And unless that happens—unless the advancement of the gospel is the sole ambition of the leaders in the church of Jesus Christ—we will fall short of God's expectations.
By the way—remember that the advancement of the gospel is not necessarily the same as the growth of your organization.
Andrew Kuyvenhoven's Daylight, a modern devotional classic, was originally published in 1994. This edition is copyright by Faith Alive Christian Resources, from whom may be ordered Daylight, the predecessor of Twilight.
A man of many accomplishments, Andrew Kuyvenhoven is probably best known for his contributions to Today (formerly The Family Altar), a widely-used monthly devotional booklet associated with the Back to God Hour. Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations for this edition of Twilight are from the New International Version