I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
– Philippians 4:18-23
I’ve shared the story of three one-hundred dollar bills in a previous post. It was an anonymous gift that we received and were not able to express thanks to the giver(s). There have been others. An inheritance, an unexpectedly large wedding honorarium, a thoughtful gesture of kindness at a particularly difficult time in life. When these come, it is easy to say thank you. It’s also easy to forget to say thank you.
How many times have you forgotten to write that thank you note? How many times have your thanks been more formally offered than felt deeply? Have you ever struggled with what to say?
Paul has no trouble on any of these accounts. Admittedly, he is guided by the Holy Spirit. In that way, perhaps, he has a leg up on us. He is also in a situation where any gift will no doubt elicit deep expressions of thanks. This letter is proof of that.
Note the elements of his thanksgiving to the Philippians. He is not just thankful, but acknowledges that it came from them through Epaphroditus – a fellow mission worker and servant of the gospel. He considers it a fragrant offering and a pleasing sacrifice. He realizes that such a gift meant that people did without something in order to send it.
But he also reminded the Philippians that God is the One who supplies our needs. And this is the key: thanksgiving belongs to God. He is the One who provides for others to bless us. He is the One who moves others’ hearts to respond to our needs. He is the One who gave first and most. He is the one who gets the glory. And his great joy is that we recognize it and receive his gifts with grateful hearts.