By Pastor Paul Sheppard
In Philippians 1, Paul explains how some people are preaching Christ with wrong motives, out of envy and rivalry, with selfish ambition, causing grief for Paul who is in chains. You have known folks like these, who try to take advantage of you when you’re at your lowest, to better themselves while causing you a lot of pain.
Paul might have lashed out against those who are causing him trouble. Instead, he says:
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. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice… – Philippians 1:18
I love how Paul says, “But what does it matter?”
I pray that each one of us takes that simple phrase to heart. When folks set out to do you harm, remember this phrase recorded in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
But what does it matter?
Too many Christians are making people famous, saying, “Why I never! Do you know what they did to me?” Stop giving publicity to your enemies! Learn to say those five words, “But what does it matter?”
God has not put your destiny into the hands of your enemies. While your enemies are running their mouths, stay focused on running your kingdom business. Just do what God has called you to do and be who God has called you to be. With or without them, God will be glorified.
But what does it matter?
They can talk all they want. What does it matter? They can lie all they want. What does it matter? The important thing to know is that in every way – whether from false motives or true – Christ will be glorified. People may be out to destroy you, but God’s Word assures you: No weapon formed against you shall prosper. – Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)
You might get upset at God when your enemy starts forming weapons against you. This passage doesn’t say they won’t be formed. They may even shoot that weapon, but it won’t be able to kill what God is doing in you.
No weapon formed against you shall prosper.
Earlier in Philippians 1, Paul assures us: … being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6
No matter how many weapons are formed against you, God will still bring His good work to completion in you. The enemy is just wasting bullets. God is with you, accomplishing His purposes. He will never forsake you. He is taking you through the valley.
If you find yourself in the valley of the shadow of death, don’t camp out there. Just keep moving. Don’t pitch a tent. He has prepared a better place for you, accomplishing His purposes.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies… – Psalm 23:4-5
Notice how the place God prepares for us is “in the presence of my enemies.” Don’t freak out when you see your enemies gather. Why? Because it’s a sign that you are close to your prepared place; you know you’re about to get blessed. When you see your enemies coming, say, “Great! My banquet table is somewhere around here.”
But what does it matter, when troubles come? Know that God is doing great things in your life. Paul is clear that no matter what people’s motives are, God is glorified. Then in verse 18 he says, “And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.”
Rejoicing is an ongoing decision. You need to make up your mind to rejoice. Then when you get started, keep on rejoicing until you get to your prepared place. Keep the main thing the main thing. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Keep praising God. Abide in Him, and He will abide in you.
You might be crying out to God, saying, “You don’t understand! This isn’t small! It’s crushing me. It’s breaking my heart.”
Know that God’s perspective is very different from ours. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
If we could only see our troubles from God’s perspective, we would know that they are “light and momentary.”
If I put a brick on one side of a balance, it would weigh the scale down because it’s heavy. But when God shows up with a cinder block and throws it on the other side of the scale, everything changes.
Invite God into your troubles with His cinder block of blessing, His cinder block of provision, His cinder block of miracles, His cinder block of possibilities. As soon as God shows up on the other side of the balance, miracles begin to happen. You look up into the sky and see your burden that seemed so heavy flying into the clouds, and you say, “Praise God. That wasn’t anything but a light and momentary affliction.”
I know your troubles don’t feel small right now, but be encouraged. God assures you that it’s the small stuff. The main thing is that He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). The main thing is that God is being glorified and His purposes are being accomplished in and through you.
God is going to bless your life. He is going to answer your prayers. He is going to meet your needs. He is going to help you through your troubles. He will bring you to the beautiful place He’s prepared where you will say, “I’m glad I went through that time, because if I didn’t go through that, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Know that your small trouble will get balanced out by a large victory. Let not your heart be troubled. God is working all things together for good.
This is an excerpt from the series “Keeping THE Main Thing the Main Thing” by Pastor Paul Sheppard. You can hear Pastor Paul’s radio show, “Destined For Victory,” weekday mornings at 9 a.m. MST on 94.1 FM or online at www.941thevoice.com. For more information, consult www.PastorPaul.net.