As Paul concludes his letter, you would expect him to wish his friends well. And he does, a couple times, in fact. But Paul also seeks God’s additional blessing on them for their financial faithfulness in supporting his mission.
When we give out of love or admiration for a ministry, probably the last thing on our minds is, “what’s in it for me?” Do you think the Philippians’ generosity was motivated by an expectation of recognition? I don’t think so. But Paul wanted them to know that he had noticed and was blessed by their continued support for him.
Have you ever gone to bed hungry? Thankfully, I do not answer “yes” to that question. But there are plenty of people in this world who do. Paul was probably not immune to that reality, yet his faith was strong.
Some of the most faithful people I’ve encountered are those in poverty. Their trust in God’s provision and the resulting joy the experience is infectious. It’s also humbling to realize how weak my own dependence on God is in comparison.
We have been privy to all of Paul’s great wisdom shared with his friends and fellow believers in Philippi. I think we all fall short of this last nugget of truth. All we have to do is look at what we’re thinking. What are we putting into our heads each day?
Thankfully, reading the Bible is one of those sources that satisfies Paul’s list. “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.” But what happens when we pick up a newspaper, read blogs online, or watch our news in video format? What about our choice of entertainment, including movies, TV shows, video games, etc. I’m not certain much of that is pure and lovely!
What happens to you when people tell you, “don’t worry!”? Do you feel like they are minimizing your concern and get a little angry with them? Do you question your trust in God to provide and feel even more impatient? Or does an overwhelming surge of calm come over you because you remember Paul’s words to the Philippians? I can identify with all these options!
Instead of worrying, Paul says we need to be praying. I get that! If you’re like me, you can set the worry aside for a time. But then, if the resolution hasn’t come fast enough, my lack of patience has me taking the worry right back. Can you identify? Why do we do this? Why can’t we just leave our worries at the feet of Jesus?
Paul takes such delight in his friends in Philippi. I can imagine how, as he wrote this letter, he was filled with joy at the memories he had made in this community. It is often fond memories we cherish that keep us going in the tough times. Sitting in a prison would not be Paul’s best hour. Yet, he rejoices and encourages his friends to “stay true to the Lord.”
Paul sees the fruits of his labor blooming in his friends. Spreading the good news about Jesus’ resurrection power has become Paul’s life work. To see this young congregation in Philippi growing gives Paul a lot to be thankful for. God is moving in the lives of these people, and God continues to move today. To stay true to the Lord, we need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and not let the distractions of this world take hold.