Paul has a good relationship with the church in Philippi. They were excited about giving generously and increasing God’s Kingdom, and Paul did not want those brothers and sisters to lose that joy. “You Philippians well know, and you can be sure I’ll never forget it, that when I first left Macedonia province, venturing out with the Message, not one church helped out in the give-and-take of this work except you. You were the only one. Even while I was in Thessalonica, you helped out—and not only once, but twice. Not that I’m looking for handouts, but I do want you to experience the blessing that issues from generosity.” Blessings given are often blessings returned. I hope we don’t get tired of the idea that we are blessed to be a blessing. It continues to be a major theme in God’s Story. Let’s not miss out on His goodness!
The “rejoice again letter” was Paul’s fourth prison correspondence. His joy was not that he would soon be released, but his rejoicing came through knowing, loving and serving the risen Lord. He began his letter with a blessing to the Christians in Philippi. Grace (favor and blessing) to you and [heart] peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). From there he addressed selfless living, and being an active example of peace and forgiveness. How is peace and forgiveness lived out in the day-to-day of life? The year before Hannah graduated high school, Russell taught our house church practical advice from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He then wrote a booklet, Joy Beyond Anxiety: The Philippians’ Peace, and a copy was given as a gift to each of Hannah’s fellow graduates. On page forty, he challenges us not to grab for control and start being anxious when we sense we need something. Instead, let’s reflect with gratitude on the goodness of God and tell Him what is going on (pray) and ask for the help you feel you need.
May we learn that it is good to slow down and allow the assurance that God cares to fill us. He will provide all that we need to grow into the image of His Son. May this good news calm our racing minds. Then the peace of God will be with us: His favor, His heart-peace, His blessing.
P.S. Years later at The Grove, discipleship training found us again diving into the principles Paul shared with his friends in Philippi. To better understand what we were learning, Russ encouraged us to choose a person as our audience and then write our own commentary based on what God was teaching us. I choose my niece Ali and was so happy to give to her The Philippians’ Joy upon her high school graduation. Pass on what you are learning; it will help you learn it even better!