When reading the first eight verses of Philippians 1, you might be surprised by Paul’s affection for the people of Philippi.
He uses phrases like, “I have you in my heart,” and, “I long for all of you.” He gushes over them saying, “I thank my God every time I remember you,” and “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.” Paul is clearly a man with abounding love and gratitude!
The Philippians brought him great joy. You may be asking yourself: Why do the Philippians bring Paul such delight and joy?
There are two primary reasons.
Joy in Community
In verse 5, Paul clearly states his reason for the joy the Philippians bring him. It’s due to their partnership with Paul in sharing the gospel. The Philippians supported Paul financially, spiritually and emotionally throughout his missionary journeys and this has bound them together in a way unlike any other.
Have you ever served alongside other believers with the sole purpose of serving Christ and making Him known?
In college, I volunteered with a ministry that worked to reach out specifically to middle and high school students to tell them about Jesus. This ministry targeted kids who had been labeled as “rough.” Our ministry gathered in teams according to the different schools we were assigned to and we prayed over the school, the ministry and the students we met.
I will tell you that working alongside those other college students bound me to them. We all had the same goal and purpose to make Jesus known and it drew us closer to one another. It created a bond that’s not easily broken.
This is what Paul felt toward the Philippians. They were the people who walked arm and arm with Paul participating in the joys and failures of sharing the message of Jesus Christ. No matter the result, they remained fixed together on their primary goal of making Jesus known.
This was the main driver and focus for Paul and the Philippians; and as a result of such gospel-centered living, it brought Paul immense joy in his gospel work.
Joy in Growth and Maturity
The second reason for Paul’s joy resided in the promise of Philippians 1:6, “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Paul held fast to the promise that God would continue to refine His children until the day we meet Jesus face to face.
What hope this promise brings to you and me! When you belong to Jesus, you are never a lost cause! He’s continually at work in you – convicting, forgiving, pruning, and refining. All you need to bring is a surrendered heart. Jesus doesn’t want any of your works or effort; He simply wants you to surrender and trust Him as the Potter to make a new and wonderful creation in your life.
When you consider the hope in that promise, it’s no wonder Paul’s joy abounded!
There is much happiness to be found in gospel work. When you partner with other believers for the sole purpose of glorifying your Father in Heaven by making Him known while also surrendering to the work He is doing in you, it brings immense joy and satisfaction.
I encourage you today to actively look for the joy in gospel work. Serve with other believers and give yourself over to the thoughtful and careful hands of the Potter to mold you into the image of His Son. It’s in that place that you will understand the same joy Paul embodied in his gospel work.