“He Wasn’t That Good!” (Philippians 1:15-19)

Several years ago, I was attending an international conference for dermatopathology. One of the spotlight speakers was Dr. Jake Smith (not his true name), professor and chair of a prestigious university dermatopathology department. As this professor was walking toward the podium, about to give his lecture, I was distracted by the chatter of two attendees sitting in the row in front of me. I recognized them as colleagues of the speaker, working under him in the same department. Speaking in low tones, it was not difficult to understand what they were saying, much to my disbelief.

“You know, Jake wasn’t that good as a resident!”

“Oh? Is that right?”

“Yeah. No one would have predicted that he would go so far. When I was chief of the department, he didn’t impress me.”

When Dr. Smith became chair of the dermatopathology department, he elevated the prestige and academic reputation of the department to world class status, something his predecessor, who was sitting in front of me, was unable to accomplish. As I listened to his snarky comments, I shook my head. Resentment, jealousy, envy. It never ends for some people. 

No matter what occupation we choose, there will always be someone better than you. Will you respond to this by becoming more competitive, working harder to improve yourself, or will you grouse and flounder in your situation, making disparaging remarks to bring the other person down in an attempt to bolster your status? If working for an organization, will you rejoice that the efforts of one have benefited everyone or will you resent the fact this person is now recognized as the face of the company?

To be sure, some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of good will. These preach out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, thinking that they will cause me trouble in my imprisonment. 

Philippians 1:15-17 (CSB)

When the Apostle Paul was imprisoned, it was greeted with a variety of reactions. While some joined Paul in his suffering and continued to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ, others used his imprisonment as a way to advance their own agendas and reputations. What was Paul’s response? 

What does it 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 because I know this will lead to my salvation through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:18-19 (CSB)

What does it matter? I love Paul’s answer. He was completely focused on one thing, preaching Jesus Christ to a lost world. It did not matter if others received the credit or did it with less than noble objectives. It did not matter whether he was good. Paul understood that in God’s Kingdom, it was everyone working together to accomplish God’s purpose in this world. Paul’s response should be our response when we encounter similar situations in life. Look upward and outward to Jesus Christ.

Amen!

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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