“What does is matter? Only that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice…” (Philippians 1:18)
Think about a recent moment you were serving someone. It could be a family member, a customer at work, your friend, or a brother or sister you provide ministry work for. Why did you serve that person? Why did you give your time, resources, or effort?
In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul makes a distinction between two groups with differing motives for preaching the same message of Christ. One group preaches out of “envy and rivalry” against Paul, out of “selfish ambition.” For whatever reason, these preachers were envious of Paul, thinking they could cause trouble or afflict him as they were preaching Christ.
The other group of preachers preaches out of “good will” and “love” (1:15-17). Instead of harboring ill feelings towards Paul, these preachers are prime examples of his partners in the gospel (1:5). As teammates for Christ, they defend and confirm the gospel (1:7,16). They preach the only way that matters; that is, they proclaim Christ (1:18).
Paul says that it doesn’t matter whether someone preaches truthfully or deceitfully as long as the message is Christ and his saving work. This doesn’t mean motivations do not matter, since Paul later commands the Philippians to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves,” to seek the interests of others (2:3-4).
For Paul, the source of his joy is the advancement of the gospel, not the advancement of Paul (1:18). Paul rejoices because Jesus is proclaimed and glorified rather than Paul being proclaimed and glorified. Paul finds joy in Jesus being made known.
What is the source of your joy? What message are you proclaiming in your everyday life? Differing politics, cultures, styles of worship and serving, tastes in music or sports teams, vaccines versus no-vaccines do not matter much in the kingdom of God. What matters most is Christ.