September 29 I Tuesday
“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.” —Philippians 1:4-5
In some of Paul’s letters to the churches, he expressed strong emotions like pain, anger and frustration. When we read Galatians and First and Second Corinthians, Paul had to defend his apostleship and the gospel. We find Paul confronting false doctrines in First and Second Timothy. Yet, in Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi, he always remembered them with thankfulness and joy. Why? Because they were a healthy, vibrant church that maintained their gospel witness. They were not causing Paul pain in his apostleship; rather, they were a blessing and stabilizer to him, standing by him in the midst of the ups and downs of being a missionary.
Paul began the formal body of his letter to the Philippians by saying, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy” (Philippians 1:3-4). Why did Paul always pray with joy? “…because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:5). Paul recalled the partnership that the church of Philippi had with him in the gospel. This partnership was multi-faceted, where part of their partnership in the gospel was their receptivity to it. What we also see in the rest of the New Testament is that not only did people like Lydia open their homes for the church to be housed, but they also shared their finances to support Paul as a missionary.
Paul expressed his sentiments about the Philippians in his letter: “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:7-8). Why did Paul have such longing and affection for the church? Because in all seasons, whether he was defending or confirming the gospel, they had been faithful, standing by and supporting him with their own resources.
Paul had an intimate partnership with the Philippians. They were among the churches who gave out of their poverty towards the needs of others as 2 Corinthians 8:2 records, “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”
From the Philippians’ partnership with Paul, we learn that we are not designed to do ministry alone. May we be like the Philippians, readily open to support and encourage those around us physically, spiritually and financially.
Prayer: Lord Heavenly Father, thank You for the church of Philippians and their example of love and generosity to the ministry. Open my heart of giving physically, spiritually and financially to others. Amen!