I know that some are preaching Christ out of jealousy, in order to annoy me, but some are preaching him in good faith. These latter are preaching out of their love for me. For they know that God has set me here in prison to defend our right to preach the Gospel. The motive of the former is questionable—they preach in a partisan spirit, hoping to make my chains even more galling than they would otherwise be. But what does it matter? However they may look at it, the fact remains that Christ is being preached, whether sincerely or not, and that fact makes me very happy. (JBP)
If we were to wait till our motives were totally pure before doing anything, chances are we wouldn’t do anything! Let’s face it, our motives are often mixed. I may preach a sermon not just to communicate truth but to show off. I may do an act of kindness to someone not just to help them but to enhance my reputation among others.
But whatever my motives, truth is still being communicated, a person in need is still being helped. By all means seek God’s help in purifying motives, but don’t surrender to paralysis in the meantime. Do the things God calls you to do and let him get to work on those motivations. Right things can be done despite wrong motives.
Which is what Paul describes here from his prison cell. He could easily get angry at those who were capitalising on his imprisonment to enhance their own reputations. But he instead focusses on the end result: the good news of Jesus is being communicated. He is not poisoned by hostile thoughts towards those who are exploiting the situation. He sees the bigger picture.
My mixed motives don’t make me useless in God’s service, they rather remind me of my humanity and my need of help. The motives of the messenger do not invalidate the message.