Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, 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 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. Phil. 1:12-14
Fear is debilitating. How often have we considered some course of action, but then we think about the negative consequence that might come, and we back out. Some salesman points out all the great things that might come from the action, but then we think about that one hesitation and let it outweigh all the positives.
Certainly it is important to consider negative consequences, but don’t let them paralyze us. My kids refer to some people as “Debbie Downers”, because they always look for the bad things in any situation and let it rob them of any joy they might experience. They are the ones who rain on every parade.
As Paul wrote these words, he was in prison in Rome–and actually chained to a Roman guard. But he didn’t look at that as a negative, he looked for the positive—that guard was actually a captive audience for Paul’s gospel message, and as the guards were rotated, the message was spreading through the whole palace guard.
But that wasn’t the only benefit that came from Paul’s positive outlook. The other Christians around Paul were seeing that rather than fearing the negative consequences that might come from trying to share the gospel, they could be confident that Christ could use any negative consequences for positive opportunities. Paul’s imprisonment, rather than scaring them away from spreading the gospel, actually aided the cause. Confidence breeds confidence.