PHP 1:1-11 NKJV
Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Paul writes Philippians from prison. Yes, you read that write. Prison. And this didn’t seem to slow down Paul’s ministry one bit – though I’m sure his accusors hoped it would. Nothing could keep him from ministering to others, encouraging the young churches, and rejoicing in his life in Christ.
We will learn a lot from the instructions that Paul writes to the Philippians, but there is just as much to learn from the life and ministry of Paul himself: rejoicing in his suffering, thinking first of others, encouraging his brothers and sisters in Christ as they endured persecution, and sorting out conflicts within the church as it was jeopardizing their witness to the world.
“Set Your Chains Aside”
In this letter, Paul is quite literally in chains for the Gospel. And yet, there is an overarching and very apparent theme of joy, gratitude and prayer for others in this passage.
Why do you think that is? What does Paul know that we, in far less noble chains than he, do not? He is thinking big-picture, long-term, Kingdom work. And on his heart is the business of encouragement.
He writes to the Philippians in verse 6,, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (emphasis added).
Paul makes no promise that they will see the fruits of their labor now that the Gospel-sowing work they are doing in the lives of their unbelieving loved ones will be theirs to also reap. He doesn’t tell them to expect things to get easier or better or simpler. He just encourages them where they are, with a sure confidence to remember the bigger picture to persevere. That all the good that has begun in that community is pointing to something greater the day of Jesus Christ!
How are you encouraging those around you today? Are you putting aside your own chains to lift up and love others?
Let’s begin our study of Philippians by being a Paul. All of us together, let’s set ourselves and our trials aside and write maybe even hand write a good, solid, big-picture encouragement to at least one other person. And permission for plagiarism here: use scripture from this passage if you like!
Let’s all live today with the day of Jesus Christ. His glorious return in the forefronts of our minds, to the glory and praise of God.