How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. – Philippians 4:10-17
Nobody loves me, everybody hates me. Guess I’ll go eat worms. I think that’s a real song. I know it’s a real feeling. It’s no fun to feel abandoned, forgotten, unloved, or unseen. Thankfully I’ve not felt that way very often. Maybe you have. Perhaps you’ve been hung out to dry waiting for a promotion, longing for a phone call, or anticipating a bonus that never comes. It might even be that you are dangling by a thread as rumors of company cuts swirl through your office. Or maybe you know someone else who is struggling under these burdens.
In the dark of night or the wee hours of the morning, in jail, or on the road, I’m sure Paul wondered whether anyone really cared. He was committed to the work to which God had called him. He was all in for bringing the Good News of Jesus to new places and peoples. But even the most dedicated disciple can be discouraged when she thinks no one else joins her in her work. The most devoted missionary can have moments of doubt when he thinks he’s the only one.
Enter the Philippians. Their gifts and prayers propelled Paul’s missionary efforts. He is thankful enough for their support to write this letter – inspired by the Holy Spirit, no less – expressing his thanks and instructing us even 2000 years later. Think of it: Paul’s thank you note not only survived the centuries, but inspires Jesus’ followers yet today.
Perhaps we are to be inspired to send support to a missionary. Maybe it’s just a reminder to reach out to someone who needs an encouraging word. It could be that you are being called to take more seriously how important your gifts and prayers are for your pastor and church. What’s more, your gifts and prayers not only encourage; they also make possible one more step of the Kingdom’s reach.
Notice, though, who gets the praise. It’s not the Philippians. It’s the Lord Jesus Christ. To God be the glory whenever we are able to encourage another in his or her kingdom quest.