The letter was written from Paul’s jail cell. If you didn't know it was written from prison, you’d never guess because the theme of the letter is joy. Paul has joy in spite of the fact that he’s in prison. Humanly speaking, his life was very much on the line (Philippians 1:20). But his circumstances don’t steal his joy. Paul uses the words "joy" and "rejoice" 16 times in this short letter.
It’s this joy in Paul that enables him to serve the Philippians so that they go “Wow!” about their relationship. He didn’t focus on himself and his painful circumstances first. Remember, to have true joy means you put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. J.O.Y. = Jesus. Others. Yourself.
Your friends and family members will have one of three experiences with you when it comes to your relationships with them. 1) You won't meet their expectations. 2) You will meet their expectations. 3) You will exceed their expectations. You'll either disappoint them, satisfy them, or wow them.
The church in Philippi wasn’t expecting much, if anything, from Paul. He seemingly wasn't in a position to bless them. Yet, in this thank you note, Paul blessed them. He exceeded their expectations.
No matter what your circumstances, you can have joy. And that joy can prevail in your life so that, in spite of your seemingly negative circumstances, you can bless others. You can exceed their expectations.
Paul says, "I’m grateful for you." "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" (Philippians 1:3-5).
Paul says that whenever he remembers the followers of Jesus at Philippi, he prays with thanks and joy.
Why is he so grateful for them? The answer is in verse 5. The church in Philippi, which Paul had planted, was continuing partner with him in the gospel. What did this partnership look like?
They were partners in the mission. Later, in Philippians 1:30, Paul says, “You're involved in the same kind of struggle you saw me go through. You’re living for the advancement of the gospel in your own neighborhoods and at your own work places. And as a result, you’re getting a taste of the same persecution with me.” They were partners in the mission.
They were partners with their money. In Philippians 4:15-16 Paul says, “You were the only ones who gave me financial help. No other church did this. You even sent help more than once.” So a part of the partnership was financial support for Paul’s missionary work. They sent Epaphroditus, a member, had come to the prison with the money (Philippians 2:25). Paul was under a kind of house arrest, chained to a Roman guard. Visitors could come and go. So, even in jail, Paul needed provisions. The Philippians were partners with their money.
As Paul thinks about their partnership, his heart fills with joy and gratitude in spite of the fact that he’s in jail.
See, the book of Philippians, at its core, is a thank you note.
Question: Who has been a partner with you in some way and you need to say “Thank you”?
It’s easy for us to slip into a sense of entitlement. Paul could have said, “I’m the one who is suffering here. I’m in jail. They should be thanking me, not me thanking them!” But Paul saw that there was a purpose for his prison and he found joy in the Lord.
How about you? Who needs to get a thank you note from you? Stop. Pray. Ask God, “Who has been a partner with me? Who should I thank?” Listen to His still, small voice. Who comes to mind? Now, will you actually take a few minutes to thank that person?
I'm guessing that someone’s reading this right now and things are not going so well for you. You feel like you're in a kind of prison because something has gone really badly in your life. Maybe you are in a communication gridlock with your spouse and you feel like you are behind bars. Or maybe you have a coach who just seems to not like you and has buried you on the bench. God brought you here to remind you that there's a purpose for your prison there's joy in the Lord. He’s calling you to go beyond yourself and write the thank you note to a person who needs it. Your note will make them go “Wow.” They will glorify God because of your love. You'll be showing passion in following Christ. And you won't regret it.
Paul says, "I’m grateful for you." And this puts a Wow! in the relationship. Will you do it, too?
Question: What keeps you from putting the Wow! in your relationships?
War for joy
War for joy (2)
War for joy (3)
War for joy (4)