In 1939 as the second World War arose on the political horizon the British government commissioned a poster intending to boost morale among the British people. The poster, which was never distributed, read, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” This is the message that Paul conveyed to the Philippians. They loved him very dearly, but two adverse circumstances converge in his life that upset them. First, Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel. Second, there were Christian preachers in the church at Rome who were jealous of Paul and they were on a quest to add to Paul’s afflictions in prison (verse 16). Their efforts to discourage Paul were based on the principle of a perceived mutual jealousy. It was something like this: because they were jealous of Paul’s success, they assumed Paul would be jealous of theirs and since he was in prison and could do nothing about it, it would “add affliction to
How cruel the green-eyed monster can be even among ministers of the gospel! But it is Paul’s reaction to this jealousy and rivalry that is more significant and from which we should learn. Out of a supreme love for his Saviour and an absolute abandonment of self, Paul did not try to retaliate. Popularity meant nothing to him and persecution had no effect on him as long as Christ was being preached.
To try to deal with this these men would not have promoted the gospel and would have caused more damage. So, with “love … abound[ing] in knowledge and in all judgment” (1:9–11) Paul did not resist evil (Mathew 5:39) but rejoiced in the preaching of Christ. Christ had given himself for Paul and now Paul was giving himself for Christ, whatever the cost. Whether he lived or died he could “Keep Calm and Carry On” because, he said, “For me to live is Christ.”
Reading: “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.—Philippians 1:15-18