OTHERS CENTRED - Philippians 1:1-11
The pioneering of anything requires joy, love and faith. These three ingredients were very present in Acts 16:12-40 as Paul and Silas visited the city of Philippi.
The church in the city of Philippi was founded by Paul on his second missionary journey, in the midst of a storm of persecution. The beginnings of the work were small, among a few women who met by the river. Lydia, a seller of purple was the first convert, and she was soon joined by the Philippian jailer and his family. These, and perhaps a few others, became the nucleus of the church.
As the church grew it became a congregation that was ideal, characterized by their gratitude to the Lord along with their generosity. The main reason Paul was writing the them was to acknowledge the financial gift they had sent with a man named Epaphroditus. He also took the opportunity to encourage them in their faith and to teach them through his letter.
In verse 3 Paul states “I thank my God every time I remember you.”
Whenever I have read or quoted this verse it fills me with admiration for Paul. At the time of Paul writing, he was imprisoned in the city of Rome. It impresses me that immediately he mentions that he is praying for the church in Philippi and further mentions in verse 4 that he prays with joy in his heart. Paul could have focused in on himself and his situation but instead he prays consistently and joyfully as he think of others. In verse 5 he reminds the Philippians of how long back his relationship went with them. I am sure Lydia and the jailer along with his family when listening to this letter being read would remember fondly those days when they first met Paul. Lydia, although religious had become a believer after meeting Paul and his co-worker Silas during an encounter with them by the river during daily prayers. Her focus would have been on business before, now it was on Christ. The jailer, a tough man due to his job would have been rough around the edges but through time he would have softened as his relationship with Christ grew. Paul affirms this in verse 6 when he states that he has the confidence and faith “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” As Paul carries on into verse 7 his affection is even more strongly emphasized as he says lovingly “since I have you in my heart.” He briefly alludes to the fact that even though “he may be in chains” or whether he was out “defending and confirming the gospel”; regardless of his circumstances he is joyful and shares in God’s incredible grace towards all of them. These words are not being spoken by a man who is writing to casual acquaintances, but rather to people whom he truly loved and missed. This is never any clearer than in verse 8 where Paul says, “God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Until now he has told them that he prays for them and the reasons why. Now Paul mentions what he prays about. Here he mentions three things in verse 9.
1. That their love would abound more and more.
2. They would grow in knowledge.
3. They would have depth of insight.
The outcome Paul desired was that they would develop an ability to discern what is best and to live pure lives, which would fill them with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.
Paul’s entire Christian life was others centred, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Many of us would have complained if we were imprisoned. As he closes this section of the letter, Paul simply says - “to the glory and praise of God.” His ultimate goal was that they would know he loved them, prayed for them and that God would receive the glory for the results of his prayerful concern for the church in Philippi.
When you are tempted to wallow in self pity, think of others and pray for them - joy will fill your heart and God will be exalted.
By: Pastor David Jones