I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6 [NIV]
We all need people who are an encouragement to us; people who bring us joy in many ways. The Philippian believers were such a community to Apostle Paul. It is a church that faithfully supported him right from the first day he established the church there. It was a church that brought him joy. For one thing they were a poor (in material things) but generous church. They shared with him money, supplies and prayers. Here are a few things that we can learn from this passage:
- Our sharing in the Gospel brings joy to others. The Philippians brought Paul delight. Why? They were his partners in the Gospel for as long as he had known them. “From the first day until now.” (Verse 5) They supported him regardless of his circumstances. Even when he was in deplorable circumstances. Think about it: we usually want to support ministries and projects that we consider “successful.” But Paul spent a good part of his ministry life in prison but even there and then, the Philippians supported him. Because of this, whenever he thought about them he was filled with joy. Your prayers, your financial support, and the small gifts you give to those who labor for Christ or those in need – in the name of Christ – bring them delight. I see this in my country Uganda all the time; gifts as small as candies bring immense joy to the little children. Never underestimate the joy God can bring to someone through your faithful partnerships.
- Our sharing in the Gospel is God’s doing. Whatever you do in the name of God is not your work; it’s God’s work. “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Verse 6). When does the work end? Until Jesus Christ returns. Most of our ministry partnerships begin at an emotional level. Maybe after listening to a mission report, or participating in a mission trip, or watching a documentary, or through media. This is actually a good place to begin. But then what happens when the momentum slows down, when the passion wanes, emotional reserves go low, and the excitement is no more? Sometimes we feel unmotivated, overwhelmed, tired, or just about to give up. When that happens remember that “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
- Our sharing in the gospel can grow deeper. Paul prayed that the Philippians would not simply give but also abound in knowledge and insight. Why is this important? Because this is God’s work and if it is God’s work he must guide us in how to do it. Without prayer and being soaked into God’s perspective our good and noble works can easily become idols that we worship or sources of pride. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ (verse 9-10). Paul prayed that they would be able to discern what is best. Sometimes we think that we know what to do, and then God surprises us. Recently my wife and I felt that God was leading us to set apart money on a regular basis to support the children ministry in our church and community. Although our income is limited God showed us how this could be possible.
I would like you to take a moment and think about the people that bring you joy through their partnership with you in the work God has called you to do. Will you also take time to thank God for them?
BTW: I just thanked God for you. Thank you for stopping by. Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for supporting me. You bring me immense joy!