Together, we serve
to know Christ
and to make Christ known
for the glory of God

18 March 2021

Proverbs 17:23

The wicked accept bribes in secret
    to pervert the course of justice.

Truly there is nothing new under the sun. The giving of bribes has a long history. Bribes are given to sway judges’ rulings; to fix betting events; to obtain advantage over business competitors; to gain money and power. It is wicked to give such bribes, but as this proverb points out, it is also wicked to accept bribes. For the one giving bribes in one sense is not the one perverting justice; rather, he is giving a bribe to one who has the power to pervert justice. The very reason he must give a bribe is that he lacks such power.

Thus, we see the danger of power. Many “good” persons have taken positions of power in the courts and in government with the desire to enforce justice, only to be corrupted by the lure of money or other form of bribery. And we are all susceptible to bribery in our own small spheres of influence. The teacher is tempted to award “pets” in the class; the parent to favor the “nice” child of the family; the boss to favor the employee who brings snacks to work. We don’t need to receive thousands of dollars to misuse our authority. Small favors that make us feel special will do.

We are all susceptible to bribery, however great or small the bribe or our power. Thanks be to God that he, the Great Judge, is swayed by nothing other than his own just character; and all praise to God that he is moved by his own mercy. Our God will always do what is right; he will always do what is for our good. We may consider that there is one “bribe” that he always accepts – the intercession of his Son who is our High Priest. He will never turn down his Son who ever pleas for us.

 

Philippians 1

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons[a]:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 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.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Paul’s Chains Advance the Gospel

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[c] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

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 defense 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.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[d] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Life Worthy of the Gospel

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[e] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.