What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the Sabbath, they were watching him closely.
When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable. "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, 'Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
The Christians at Philippi must have asked Paul about people who went round preaching about Christ, yet did not take part in their Eucharist or prayer-meetings. We remember a similar episode in the gospel (Lk 9:49-50) and in each case envy is the fault which is not allowed among his disciples. Paul replies that whenever anyone proclaims Christ, whatever the motives, it brings him joy. He reduces the entire gospel to that single word, "Christ," who lives as our risen saviour.. For "it is not ourselves we preach but Jesus Christ as Lord" (2 Cor 4:4-5).
Unlike the evangelists Paul's written message does not record the words and deeds of Jesus. Rather his gospel is about the risen Jesus, alive now within the community. Every action and word among the believers becomes an action or statement of the "body of Christ." What joy filled the heart of Paul and what holiness was transmitted to others, by simply mentioning the name "Christ." With this name he felt he could sweep aside all envy and envy among the faithful.
Too many good people want their goodness to be known and recognized and pull rank in order to "sit in the place of honour." In today's parable Jesus kindly adapts himself to this common weakness even of otherwise good people. "Sit in the lowest place.. so that the host will say, 'My friend, come up higher,' then you will win esteem." It seems that Jesus is saying: if you must win esteem, at least go about it in a proper, civilized way. The gospel ends with the most difficult commandment of all, humility. The commandment to be humble is the stumbling block of believers and even they have to see an exaltation offered as a reward.
Jesus is critical of those who seek honour for themselves. At the meal to which he had been invited, he noticed how some of the guests went out of their way to pick the places of honour. In response Jesus speaks a parable that is critical of this kind of self-promoting behaviour. Jesus suggests that his followers should not be concerned about seeking honour from others. What really matters is the honour we will receive from God. We are to live in such a way that God will honour and exalt us. God's honouring of us may not happen in this life. However, if we live in a way that is shaped by the gospel, God will certainly honour us after death. As Jesus says, repayment will be made when the virtuous rise again. The various honours we might receive in this life fade into insignificance compared to the honour that God wants to confer on us. That is why as followers of Jesus we are not to be concerned as to whether or not the good we do is recognized by others. The Lord calls on us to be faithful to the good we are doing, even when we are not recognized, even if honour does not come our way. We do not worry about recognition from others, because what really matters to us is the honour we will receive from God.