I read those words this morning in the Bible, of all places. Doesn’t that surprise you a little too? “What does it matter?” Paul asked in Philippians 1:18. Indeed.
I’m the first to admit that I can get in a big wad over the silliest and most unworthy concerns. Can you relate?
I’ve found that I’m especially prone to waddiness over things that affect me personally somehow. “How will that make me look? How does that affect my schedule? What will people think about me if we do that? How come I don’t have one of those?” You get the picture.
But surprisingly Paul was in just such a situation as he wrote the church in Philippi. He had found out that some people were preaching the gospel, just like him, and being esteemed as wise men of God, just like him, and experiencing kingdom success with their preaching, just like him, but doing their preaching with all the wrong motives, unlike him. And there were undoubtedly people around Paul who were even goading Paul on to adapt my normal attitude of “How does that make me look?” That’s why Paul was addressing this issue in his letter.
But, unlike me, Paul simply said, “What does it matter? Just that in every way, whether out of false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed.”
Paul got himself out of his own way and focused on the big picture instead–something very hard for most of us to do. Why is that? Because if we habitually focus on ourselves, we soon grow (in our own minds, at least) to be bigger than the big picture! We become our own big, fat, faulty picture!
And when you are the big picture, it’s awfully hard to say “What does it matter?” because then everything matters a whole lot more than it really should.
On the other hand, when we look for God in the situations of our lives, we’re more likely to see the big picture correctly and we’re also prone to realize how little some things matter. Especially the things that seemingly affect us. We realize, as Max Lucado says, “It’s not all about me.”
Is there something going on in your life today that you’ve been focusing on from the wrong perspective? Have you been looking at how it affects you instead of how God is working in it? Has your clouded vision magnified the issues to the point that you’re hyperventilating over things that really don’t deserve even a fretful moment? Are you trying to play god in the situation? Does it have you in a wad?
I’m not inferring that there isn’t anything worthy of our concern, but even those things are handled better through prayer than through our anxious stewing. Before we get in a wad over something, even something that seems as worthy of our waddiness as false teachers or evil motives, we’d be better off to ask the true God, “Does this matter to You? Is there anything I need to be doing about it? Or do You have it under control?” My bet is that 99% of the time God would impress upon our sweet little misguided hearts that He’s got it “taken care of, but thanks for asking.” Other times He might give us a simple instruction to do something proactive, but I can absolutely guarantee you that whatever He tells us to do will involve love, grace, forgiveness, and humility. Jesus didn’t let John and James call for fire to rain down from heaven, and He’s not about to let us solve our problems that way either.
Here’s the bottom line. Most of us, including me, need to get out of our wads. We need to get ourselves out of the picture, take a closer look at the “big picture,” shrug our shoulders and say, “What does it matter?”
Does it matter to God? If it does, talk with Him about it. If it just matters to me, I might better just take myself out of the picture so I can see things more clearly.