New International Version
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 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.
Paul (almost) doesn’t care why people proclaim Christ, only that they do so. Perhaps he is not quite as nonchalant as he appears, but in his situation it seems that there are some who, embarrassed by Paul’s imprisonment or envious of his success (likely both), were preaching the Gospel hoping to draw away support for Paul and establish a rival ministry. The result was, at least the Gospel was being preached.
This week I have been reminded how divisive and tribal Christians can be, wanting to be seen as “correct” and labeling others as “dodgy”, or even “heretical” for reasons that escape me: An article was published in a Christian magazine recently which put our work in a poor light and some are asking us whether we are going to challenge it in print. It is tempting to want to justify ourselves when this happens and hit back. Similarly Paul had rivals who wanted to discredit him. But he just won’t rise to the bait. All he cares about is the Gospel because the Gospel is all about Jesus, and Jesus is all that matters.
May Paul’s attitude be in us too, that the only thing that matters is Jesus.