Philippians 1:1-8 (click here for passage)
Paul does not come across as a big shot leader, but as a humble ‘’servant’’ (1). All leaders in Christ’s church should view themselves as servants, and all believers should see themselves as ‘’saints’’.
As the little boy observed, having seen some of the ‘saints’ in stained glass windows in a local church: ‘’A saint is someone the light shines through!’’ One of the ways in which the Philippian Christians shone was in giving practical/material support to Paul (see 5 and chapter 4:10-20). They excelled in ‘’the grace of giving’’ (2 Corinthians 8:7). Although Paul was on the front line of Kingdom advancement (7b), he did not feel superior to them. They were his partners in the gospel. They were the ‘supply lines’ and were making their own essential contribution to the cause. When Paul was in prison, they sent one of their own, ‘’Epaphroditus’’, to be with him; to take care of his needs and cook his meals etc. Paul was aware that he and these Christians in Philippi were sharers in the same ‘’grace’’ (6). They were all, together, fully dependent on the grace of God. They stood on level ground before the cross. They were together in salvation and ministry.
Saints are not ‘extra special’ Christians.
They are not a ‘suped up’, turbo-charged variety. They are not an elite squad of believers – a kind of spiritual ‘S.A.S.’ It’s not the case that there are ‘ordinary’ disciples, then a higher tier called ‘saints’. No not at all. The truth is that all Christians are saints, and all saints are a work in progress (6). They are a dish still cooking; they are a painting yet on the easel. Saints are not yet finished, even if they’ve already come along way. (Some, maybe many, haven’t yet travelled a great distance. But they’re on the journey, and the Lord is guiding them to His appointed destination. He will get them there at the end of the day. They may not look impressive as pilgrims, but they have a great Guide.) ‘’There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.’’ The Message
To pray with thankfulness is a key to joy (3, 4). Learn to interlace your requests with thanks. Be thankful for your fellow Christians. Be specifically thankful, as Paul was. Paul could thank God for these Christians he was writing to; they were in his ‘’heart’’ (7). He had a supernatural love for them (8). This is the love that is the ‘’fruit of the Spirit’’ (Galatians 5:22). It is the love of Jesus. ‘’Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does.’’ The Message. One preacher was talking to his congregation, giving them suggestions of things they might consider ‘giving up’ for Lent. One of his points was, ‘Give up looking for people’s bad points. Start noticing their good qualities and give thanks for them!’ Just think what that kind of Lentern ‘fast’ might do for you – and others around you!
Paul proved in his own up and down experience that the ‘’Grace and peace’’ (2) you need to live the Christian life, with its many challenges and trials, is always available. This was his fondest wish for his fellow-believers in the Roman colony of Philippi.
Prayer: Teach me, dear Lord, to always combine thanking with asking.