Philippians 1:1-5 – Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Tis the season when people start making their lists for holiday gift giving. What is on the list of what you are hoping to get? What is on the list of what others are hoping to get from you?
Did you know that God also has a holiday wish list for you? As we’ve been studying Philippians, we have established that one of the major themes of the letter is joy. Oddly, Paul writes the letter from prison after being illegally arrested, and wrongly imprisoned in far-away Rome. For most of us, our joy is defined by our life. If life is going good, we are joyful. If life is going bad, we are not joyful. In contrast, Paul had a joy that defied his life. His life was going bad, and he was joyful.
If you could learn the secrets to Paul’s joy you could share in that joy. In the opening lines of his letter to his Christian friends at the church in Philippi, Paul tells us of three things that brought him joy:
- Pals: A friend who loves the Lord and is for us when life is against us is a great joy. Paul mentions his faithful friends saying, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you”. Philippians names some of his most precious pals like the men Timothy and Epaphroditus, and the women Euodia and Syntyche. Paul was a faithful friend who had joy in the faithfulness of his friends who supported him even when he could not be with them. The key to these close and healthy relationships was the fact that these people did ministry together, serving God side by side for many years. The principle is simple: if you want to get close with people, do ministry with them serving others.
- Prayer: In mentioning “my prayer with joy”, Paul is revealing to us a secret for joy. Sometimes, joy wanes because we become focused solely on ourselves. Joy grows as we focus on God and others, in addition to our own needs, which is exactly what happens when we pray according to the Spirit.
- Partnership: In his gratitude in “your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now”, Paul is revealing that joy comes to those and through those who open the love in their hearts and resources in their banks to work together in a church for the cause of the gospel. The partnership to which Paul refers is a generous financial gift which the church had Epaphroditus deliver to him, which we will learn about nearing the end of our study in Philippians.
Which of these three things is strongest in your life? Which of these three things is weakest in your life?