Making the Best of Bad Situations

Text: Philippians 1:12-18

 

I.         As much as we might wish it otherwise, we aren’t often in control

            A.        Things aren't always optimal

            B.        Things don’t always go our way

II.        Better than you might think

            A.        The Philippians had hear of Paul’s imprisonment - Philippians 4:14

                        1.         Such would normally be a concern

            B.        Yet Paul tells the brethren that his imprisonment turned out to have benefits - Philippians 1:12

                        1.         Paul could have focused on the bad events. There were certainly plenty to consider: jail time, trials, inability to travel

                        2.         But what Paul chose to focus on was that the gospel was spreading further because of his imprisonment.

            C.        Paul wasn’t your typical prisoner. He wasn’t there because of crimes. He was there because of being a Christian - Philippians 1:13

                        1.         Though a prisoner, he rented his own house and was allowed to receive guests. He spent his time teaching everyone who came to see him - Acts 28:30-31

                                    a.         Notice no one told him to stop

                        2.         He was constantly under guard, which meant the guards were hearing the gospel while keeping an eye on Paul - Acts 28:16

                        3.         The typical practice was to chain a prisoner to a guard. From Paul’s viewpoint he had a captive audience!

                        4.         From this situation, Paul converted members of Caesar’s own household - Philippians 4:22

                                    a.         Normally Paul would not have access to people in high places, but his imprisonment

                                    b.         It was just as Christ had said - Acts 9:15-16

            D.        His example was encouraging others to preach - Philippians 1:14

                        1.         Paul saw himself as an ambassador in chains - Ephesians 6:19-20

                        2.         Because Paul wasn’t being stopped, even though in prison, others gathered courage to speak without fear

                        3.         They imitated Paul - I Corinthians 11:1

            E.        Paul understands that those now preaching are not all preaching from a pure heart. Some are doing so because they think it will cause Paul more problems when he faces Caesar. - Philippians 1:15-17

                        1.         Again this isn’t something Paul can control. To be sure, we would like to think that everyone is preaching because they are zealous for God, but that is being overly optimistic.

                                    a.         Some preach to make money - II Corinthians 2:17

                                    b.         Some twist the truth - II Corinthians 4:1-2

                        2.         But notice again that Paul didn’t focus on only those he knew were preaching from bad motives. He kept a balanced view. There are people preaching for excellent reasons.

                        3.         Contrast this with Elijah’s attitude when he fell into depression - I Kings 19:10, 14

                                    a.         God pointed out to him that he forgot about the good people still left - I Kings 19:18

                        4.         But even with those who are preaching from the wrong motives, Paul still saw a positive: the gospel still was being spread - Philippians 1:18

III.       Application

            A.        We can make good out of ill as well

                        1.         I’ve known people in the hospital or in nursing homes teaching the gospel to their visitors and caretakers

                        2.         I’ve known people who ended up in prison spending their time teaching their fellow prisoners.

                        3.         Opportunities to teach abound if we but look around us

            B.        We don’t need to despair over all the false teaching going on in the world

                        1.         True, they are leading many people astray. People who have no love for the truth - II Timothy 4:3-4

                        2.         However, they are at least teaching portions of the truth and they are reaching people we might not be able to reach. Some of those have a desire for truth and they will continue to seek it.

                        3.         You can be thankful that these false teachers at least got them part way to the truth, so that it was easier for you to teach them the rest that they needed to know.

                        4.         Notice that this isn’t acceptance of false teachings, but neither do we let the false teachers get us down.

            C.        We don’t have to be perfect to deliver the perfect will of God - I Corinthians 2:3-5

                        1.         Don’t hesitate because you don’t think you will do it right. Do the best you can because God can make use of imperfect people - II Corinthians 4:7

                        2.         Sometimes we forget how frail Paul was - Galatians 4:12-14

            D.        Do what you can. Don’t get depressed about what others are doing. Instead focus on the good, wherever it is found.


Loosely based on a lesson by Mark Copeland