It’s All In How You Look At It
Intro: “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”
(Romans 8:28). We serve a God Who can turn . . .
Tribulation into Triumph
Persecution into Progress
Adversity into Advantage
Illust: Joseph in Egypt
A. Brothers did him wrong; also Potiphar &wife, butler.
B. God worked thru these trials to accomplish His
purpose (thus Genesis 50:20)
Not All Things Are Good! But God can bring good from bad circumstances, as Paul shows in this text.
Paul was in chains, but he wrote of gains!
Paul knew & heard of men who preached Christ withthe absolute worst of motives – but he rejoiced that Christ was preached!
Paul wasn’t glad for the chains (cf. Acts 26:29 to King Agrippa “except for these chains”) He wasn’t glad for the corrupt motives of his enemies. But He was glad for the good that God did thru these things.
Some people see a silver lining, but all they want to think or talk about is the cloud. Paul knew all about clouds! But he focused on the silver lining.
It’s All In How You Look At It! (Same for the trials YOU encounter!)
I. Cloud #1: Paul in chains in Rome – How?
A. He wanted to go there (cf. letter, AD 57-58)
1. 1:10 “if by some means now, at last, I may find a way in the will of God to come to you”
2. v. 15 “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also”
3. But nobody in his right mind would want to get to Rome in the manner Paul went there! . . .
B. Events that brought Paul to Rome (none of wh/ were good, but God worked good thru them):
1. Arrested after being mobbed/beaten in the Temple (Acts 21:26ff, trumped-up charge)
2. Hearing before the Sanhedrin
3. Transferred to Caesarea to prevent assassination
4. Trial before governor Felix (stall, delay)
5. Trial before governor Festus – appeal to Caesar
6. Hearing before Herod Agrippa II
7. Shipwrecked on voyage to Rome
8. House arrest in Rome 2 years (chained to soldier who guarded him, Philippians 1:13, 16, cf. Acts 28:16)
9. Paul could have bemoaned his condition – “Oh woe is me!” Instead, he focused on silver lining:
II. Silver Lining #1 What happened to Paul “actually” turned out for the furtherance of the gospel!
A. “Actually” is a word wh/ means “contrary to what was designed or expected” (i.e. by Paul’s enemies) [Thus God was bringing good out of the evil wh/ Paul’s enemies planned & expected!]
B. Paul had opportunities to preach Christ to people he might never have met otherwise
1. The whole palace guard, v. 13
a. Paul would have been chained to numerous soldiers – all of them would hear about Jesus
& know Paul was no criminal & Jesus was no threat to Caesar.
b. “Praetorian” may refer to the prison compound – it is possible Paul had been transferred from his rented house in prep for trial. Officials would hear his case prior to his appearance before Caesar. They, too, would hear about Jesus, realize Paul was no anti-Roman zealot or law-breaker, & that Jesus was no threat to Caesar.
2. “And to all the rest” (v. 13) – others associated w/ Caesar & his government, cf. 4:22 some of Caesar’s own household had become Xns (via Paul’s teaching/influence??)
C. Other brethren emboldened by Paul’s chain, v. 14
1. If Paul could evangelize even while chained & on trial for his life, surely these others could
preach Christ boldly while enjoying the advantages of freedom!
2. They had good will & love toward Paul, & knew he was appointed for the defense of the
gospel, vv. 15b, 17
a. Yes, the gospel is to be defended (e.g. against the attacks of Judaizers, skeptics,
atheists, et. al.)
b. Appointed: KJV “set” – usually translated “laid” (it is a passive verb)
1) E.g. Matthew 3:10 “the axe is laid to the root of the trees” i.e. it is positioned there in prep for doing its job
2) Paul was positioned in Rome (by God’s providence) for the purpose of defending the gospel, whether before Caesar or elsewhere (so they could do so also)
D. Paul chose to focus on the silver lining rather than fretting about the cloud. He did the same with the second cloud . . .
III. Cloud #2 – Some were Preaching Christ from the Worst of Motives
A. Envy and strife, v. 15a
1. Envy – probably due to Paul’s success in evangelizing despite his hardships
2. Strive: better “rivalry” – trying to out-do Paul
B. Selfish ambition, not sincere, seeking to add affliction to Paul’s chains (v. 16)
1. Selfish ambition goes right along w/ envy & rivalry – it wasn’t about Jesus, it was about
2. They were not sincere (thus hypocrites!)
3. They hoped that their work would add more affliction to Paul’s chains
a. Perhaps hoping Paul would be envious?
b. Perhaps hoping the court would be hard on Paul because of the success of the gospel?
C. These were not good things! Yet Paul didn’t focus on the evil, but on the good that God brought out of the bad . . .
IV. Silver Lining #2 – Christ is Preached!
A. “What, then?” (v. 18)
1. OK, so how is Paul going to look at this whole situation? (cf. title of sermon: “It’s All In How
You Look At It!”)
2. Paul could do like the majority of folks & focus on how bad everything is (but he doesn’t . . .)
B. Christ is preached!
1. Paul is NOT saying it’s ok that some have awful motives
2. Regardless of motives, Christ is preached!
3. This does not appear to be a case where the Judaizers are preaching Jesus plus legalism.
a. Paul made it abundantly clear that the Judaizers “gospel” was a totally different
“gospel” and those who preached it were accursed! (Galatians 1:6-9)
b. Paul even warns the Philippians to beware of the “mutilation” (term of derision re: the
Judaizers who preached circumsision).
4. Paul rejoiced in the fact that Christ was preached.
a. Far from being envious (as his enemies may have hoped), Paul was GLAD!
b. For Paul, it wasn’t about him – it was about Jesus!
c. He was NOT saying their horrid motives were ok – he was saying that God was bringing good out of it, and Paul was happy for the good!
Concl: It’s all in how you look at it! Every one of us encounters trials. We don’t enjoy our trials any more than Paul enjoyed his. But we don’t have to be down and dreary over them. God can and will bring forth good from bad situations. If we look for the good, we’ll find it and be able to rejoice over it!
Joe Slater (Justin, TX)
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