Sunday, November 21 2021
What encourages you and gives you great joy? The gospel message with its love and insight unites Christians and that unity is part of the joy of the Christian life. One way that Christians can all partake of the fruit of the gospel is by giving to missionaries and supporting missionaries in spreading the gospel. Everyone who gives to the mission of making disciples is also participating in making disciples. The epistle to the Philippians demonstrates the joy of the gospel and the church in unity as a great word of encouragement for Christians to take part in the great mission of the church.
The apostle Paul wrote Philippians to “the saints,” the holy ones, in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi “with the overseers and deacons” (Philippians 1:1). The congregation had grown to have mature leaders who were elders and deacons (cf. 1 Timothy 3). Paul continually blessed these saints with grace and peace from God the Father and Christ the Lord (1:2). The apostle Paul expressed, “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 ESV). Their partnership with Paul was giving in support of him to spread the gospel.
Giving in support of the gospel increases thanksgiving to God. Among the first to support Paul in spreading the gospel would have been Lydia and her household and the Philippian jailer and his house (Acts 16). The faithful at Philippi sent Paul financial support before any others to take the message of Jesus’s resurrection further throughout the world (Philippians 4:14–20). For this reason, the apostle encouraged them that he was sure God would complete His work in them on the day of Christ (1:6). For this reason, the apostle carried thanksgiving and joy with him having them “in his heart,” because they were partakers together of God’s grace (1:7).
Christians should have affection for one another because they support and encourage one another’s good works in proclaiming the gospel and sharing God’s love. Paul’s love for the church was increased because he could defend and confirm the gospel while enduring imprisonment (Philippians 1:7). The apostle claimed, “God is my witness,” as he often did, and in this place, he recognized God as the witness of his longing and affection for those Christians (1:8). God is the witness of the affection and love for others among Christians. The church of Philippi demonstrated that love and established that close connection by giving to Paul’s evangelistic works.
Paul built on the fellowship and communion of Christians by urging the church in Philippi to abound in love with knowledge and insight, and so they can approve of what is excellent to be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9–10). Their giving did not replace the need for them to continue to grow in Christ. The apostle cared for the congregation and wanted them to mature and remain true to Christ. He urged these Christians to grow in love and knowledge so by this they will be filled with the fruit of righteousness through Christ (1:11). By abounding in love and knowledge, this was all for the glory and praise of God.
Every Christian can have this same affection by giving in support of the spreading of the gospel and various evangelistic works locally and among missionaries. However, their giving does not replace their own need to grow in knowledge. If you are longing for this kind of faith and affection in a family of faith, Christ provides a community for belonging among the faithful.