Returning now to the point we left off in chapter 1.
Phillippians 1: 12-18
I want you to know, brethren, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brethren have been made confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment, and are much more bold to speak the word of God without fear.
From His own life an illustration of one of Paul's most hopeful, jubilant, and joyful sayings, "All things work to the good of those who love Him." Here Paul rejoices in his imprisonment because through it he has gained another audience. The whole Praetorian Guard knows that his imprisonment is for Christ. What they make of this, we do not know. But surely they know enough to realize that a man willing to endure such confinement because of his beliefs is a man worth listening to. And if they are listening, they are hearing about Jesus. Paul is always pointing to Jesus. To everyone around him Paul speaks of Jesus and rejoices in Christ.
Rejoicing in chains--it makes one think. Think for a moment of your own chains--most of them are probably self-made. The worst of our captivities is self-imposed. We enslave ourselves to sin, we give in to temptation. Heck, if the truth be told (and I'm sure I'm not alone in this) I downright go out looking for tempations if they can't readily be found at home. We're smart and we're bored and we're looking for something that will fill the vast empty spaces. And Satan will see to it that we will find something that seems for a moment to do so. For a moment--but then the vast emptiness comes rushing back upon us. What could be worse captivity that this?
But Paul rejoices in chains, because his chains are not of his own making. They are merely material chains--the things we chafe against. I can't stand the fact that I can't buy what I want whenever I want. If truth be told, I'm certain that more than half of my dislike for the wealthy stems not from their perceived arrogance and paltryness, but rather from my own desire to have the opportunity to be the same. A little more money, a little more fame, a little more sex, a little more. . . these are the chains that really bind. And Paul is free of them and rejoicing in his imprisonment. He rejoices because in his own captivity he frees those around him. His chains are of the moment and his presence and witness frees many from the chains that are of eternity.