Although many have been inspired to preach the Gospel by Paul’s example, there are always those who preach Christ with wrong motives. Paul begins to talk about them in Philippians 1:15. He writes, “Some indeed 14 comparisonpreach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill.” It seems that Paul’s imprisonment inspired two different motives. It would be naïve to think that Paul did not have any enemies. He had them in the Jewish Community. He had them in the Pagan (Gentile) communities. He even had them within the church. We like to think that the early church was perfect and that Christians are above such things, but that’s simply not true. I expect that every problem that can be found in churches today could also be found in churches in Paul’s day as well. Yes, even Christians can become competitive and petty. Even Christians can be motivated out of jealousy, envy and strife. As a Christian I know that Christians can be that way because I know myself and I still struggle with impure motives.

Some were preaching Christ, but were doing so “from envy and strife.” The word “from” means “because of.” The message about Christ being the savior was fine, but the motive was skewed. One commentator wrote, “Envy is the feeling of disapproval by hearing the successes of others. This term is always used in the negative or evil sense in the New Testament.” Some of those proclaiming Christ were doing so out of impure motives. Envy seeks to diminish the accomplishments of others. While seeking to diminish the successes of others, envy actually eats away at those who allow it a foothold in their lives. Proverbs 14:3 says, “Envy is rottenness to the bones.” There is no joy in this! Envy and strife are enzymes that eat away at our joy! Paul is going to go on and say that even though the motives are wrong he is still “rejoicing” because Christ is being preached. We can share in other’s successes in the Gospel message and have “true” joy in life when we maintain a spirit of “goodwill” toward each other.

When other’s success leads us to feel diminished in some way ourselves, there is always something that follows: strife! Strife is an expression of enmity. These two evils are stitched together in James 3:16, “For where envy and self-seeking (strife) exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” People try to outdo and eclipse others where there is envy in motivation. Grant Richison says, “It takes maturity to rejoice in the success of others. Immaturity constantly compares self with others. Juvenile Christians are intimidated by the accomplishments of others. Churches are often neutralized because of this deadly combination. Think of a church full of people threatened by everybody else. Strife is inevitable.” But there are still others who preach Christ from “good will.” Thank God for these people. There’s no ill will towards Paul or anyone. There is true rejoicing at the success of others. Paul did not retaliate. He knew that the important thing was that the Gospel was being preached. That gave him great joy! Envy and strife will devour our joy.