Topic:Rejoicing in Our Rivals
But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
It’s evident in this passage that certain Christians were jealous of Paul. These are not Judaizers. These are not false teachers. They are preaching a true gospel. They were genuine Christians, but they were jealous of Paul. Evidently they felt they were there first and they felt he had perhaps usurped some of their positions. There is always readiness for envy. But many false doctrines had fallen before the Spirit of power and the cool logic and authority of the Apostle as he ministered to them. Now they see a chance to regain their popularity. They begin to plan extensive campaigns in Rome and surrounding cities, hoping thereby to eclipse the apostle in their activity and zeal for the gospel. They are hopeful that when the word gets back to Paul of how much they are doing he too might feel some of the jealous pain they feel. But the prisoner couldn’t care less. The magnanimous spirit he has in Christ only make him rejoice in the fact that Christ is being preached. He says it doesn’t matter whether they are doing it to make me feel bad or not — Christ is being preached, and in that I rejoice.
Can you take the success of others? That’s one of the hardest tests of Christian maturity, isn’t it? I don’t think there is a clearer mark of Christian maturity than to be able to genuinely rejoice — not just say pious words — but genuinely rejoice in the success of another. Most of us react like the Christian I heard of in the mountains of West Virginia who, when asked how things had been going that year, said, Oh things have been terrible. We’ve had an awful year. Things have never been worse. Instead of having any progress in the church we’ve had setbacks, we’ve lost people. But then he smiled and said, But thank God, the Methodists haven’t done any better. That spirit is the counterpart of what Paul reveals here. Rivalry caused him to rejoice.
I confess, Lord, that I often have not rejoiced in the success of others, and have seen it as a threat to my own sense of worth. Teach me, like Paul, to rejoice even in the success of my rivals.
Christian envy is an oxymoron! Are we among those who dishonor Christ by competitive envy? Or do we share the Apostle Paul’s joy when the Good News is spread by whatever means?