Not About Us
We began our study of Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi last week. It didn’t take long before we had to stop and look carefully at Paul’s introductory salutation where he states, “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,” (Philippians 1:3-5).
At first read we can take this as a polite pleasantry, the way we often say “good morning” to one another without giving it much thought. However, we must be reminded that when Paul is writing this letter he is imprisoned in Rome. Things don't look good for Paul.
Yet, in his own tribulation and time of trials he takes the time to write the church of Philippi a most encouraging and affirming note. It’s important to note that Philippi had a special place in Paul’s heart. It was the first place in Europe where Paul baptizes, that person was Lydia, and he encourages the believers there with his testimony after being beaten by the magistrates. Philippi is a powerful enclave on the Egnatia Way (the main road to Rome), surrounded by gold mines and populated by retired officers from Rome’s Legions.
Paul recognizes that from the very beginning of his encounter with the believers from Philippi, he was supported and encouraged by them. Years later he is writing them a letter and thanking them for their support back then and their continued support over the years past. Support through trials and tribulations.
How wonderful it is when we can find faithful friends in the faith who are supportive, nonjudgmental and encouraging. Paul takes time in the midst of his tribulations to thank and encourage those old friends.
I can’t help but wonder if this is what most of us would do if we were in Paul’s shoes? I’m thinking that it would be a lot more probable that we would be writing our friends to garner their sympathy and support with hopes that we would be delivered. However, Paul in place of dreading he takes the time to encourage and thank his dear faithful friends who have endured his tribulations and their own.
I pray that we would learn to be like Paul in these few words. May we learn to trust God so amply that we would look beyond our own tribulations and focus on remembering the good, celebrating the blessings, and being grateful for the hand of God in our lives to such a degree that we will always be ready to equip and encourage the believers around us.
Being able to look beyond our tribulations is the ability to be able to trust the sovereignty of God in our lives. It is about trusting Him to such a degree that we are always concerned with the advancement of the gospel and its abounding love for others over our own tribulations.