"It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of 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."
Because of Paul's boldness in proclaiming the good news of grace through the person of Christ while in the face of persecution from both legalistic believers and non-believers, many grace believers began to proclaim the person and finished work of Jesus more boldly. Legalistic believers preached Christ out of competition with Paul, seeking to demean his name and to make a name for themselves, while grace believers preached Christ from a heart of compassion. seeking to make much of the name and the finished work of Christ.
Through their antagonism, their demeaning of Paul, legalistic believers desired to cause difficulty for him while he was in prison, as if his time in prison wasn't difficult enough. Amazingly, even though these legalistic believers were preaching Jesus from false motives, seeking to make a name for themselves while hoping to destroy the name of Paul, Paul rejoiced.
Why did Paul rejoice?
Because what was important to Paul wasn't that his name was being slandered, but that the name of Jesus was being spoken, even if from impure motives.
As grace believers, our names will be slandered among legalistic believers. We will be labeled as those who water down the gospel with grace, as if grace is a small part of the gospel. We will be criticized for talking too much about grace, as if that could ever be done. We will be accused of preaching "greasy grace". We will be accused of giving people a license to sin and not caring about sin.
However, like Paul, it is not our names that matter.
Ridicule us. Demean us. Slander us. Fire us. It matters not. The only thing that matters is that the name of Jesus and his finished work is lifted high for all to see. In that we rejoice.
If your name has become nothing in your church, denomination, religious organization, small group, Bible class, community, family, village, neighborhood, etc... for proclaiming the good news of God's grace freely, fully, and forever given to us in Jesus, rejoice. Because the name of Jesus and his finished work of grace has become something, even if rejected,...in that you rejoice!