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Categorized | From the Pulpit

What does it matter?

Pastor Mike Wittmer

Cedar Springs Baptist Church

233 S Main, Cedar Springs

I told my friend that when I go for a run, sometimes I walk part of the way. She is a kind and generous person, so she said, “There’s no shame in that.” I am a less kind person, so I jokingly put her on the spot. “Shame? Who said anything about shame? You wouldn’t have mentioned that if walking wasn’t a little bit shameful.” 

We laughed, and I thought of Paul’s shrug in his letter to the Philippians. He mentioned how some people in Rome were proclaiming the good news of Jesus from “selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 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” (Philippians 1:17-18 NIV).

What does it matter? Paul would only say that if it mattered, at least a little. If it didn’t matter at all, he wouldn’t have noticed. 

I wish I was one of those sweet, carefree people who don’t notice slights and insults. I’d like to skip through life, assuming everyone is love and light. But I’m more like Paul. I feel people’s selfishness. I notice when they are out to get me. It bothers me.

And that’s okay. What does it matter? was Paul’s hard-won confession. How he must have prayed and agonized to get to that point! He learned to consider his many accomplishments to be “a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (3:8). He concluded, “I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (3:9). Jesus is everything, so what did it matter if some preachers were trying to hurt Paul? They were telling people about Jesus, the only person who can save us from hell. 

Life seems easier for lighthearted people, but realists have a more obvious opportunity for spiritual growth. It’s more praiseworthy to feel an offense and give it to Jesus than to not notice the offense at all. The latter comes naturally to some; the former is an unmistakable sign of the Spirit of God. 

Don’t worry that you may be overly sensitive to other people’s selfish ambition and insults. That is your opportunity to run to Jesus. Their slights matter, until you focus on him. Then they melt away into insignificance. And your shrug, What does it matter? That will really mean something.

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