“Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.”
I had a professor once who should have been named Barnabas — he certainly had the gift of encouragement. At a time when I wasn’t sure of my abilities as a journalist and writer, he offered words of hope and encouragement. he went beyond words by giving me an opportunity to work on a project with him. And because of that project, other doors opened for me to broaden my experience and learn new skills. In many ways, this professor was a Philippian to me, because he put his kind words into action.
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he thanked them several times for their partnership in the proclamation of the gospel. They had gone beyond kind words to send gifts with one of their own, Epaphroditus, with the intent that he would help Paul in other ways.
Each of us has many ways to be like the Philippians. For example, we are following the Philippians’ example when we come alongside someone in need, or participate in Labor of Love*, or make snacks for Time 4 You*, or deliver Meals on Wheels. We can be like the Philippians to our pastoral staff with our prayers and words and encouragement, and our willingness to partner in ministry. And we can follow the Philippian church’s example when we support missionaries, like John and Amy Battenfield* or Jonathan Keim*, or others that our church supports. Our prayers, gifts and offerings help sustain these missionaries and further the gospel.
Paul appreciated the help he received from the Philippians, but he also knew that the aid they offered benefited them, too. He calls their gifts “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable to God.” The gifts we offer are not only to the ones we are helping, but to God, and his blessing will return to the giver.
So think about how you might be a Philippian to someone today.
* These are all ministries or missionaries supported by my church.