Philippians 1:1-11: Thanksgiving and Prayer
June 14, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
2 Kings 1-3, Psalm 119:105-112, Luke 4:38-44, Philippians 1:1-11
Paul writes with great joy concerning the people at Philippi. This joy of Paul’s overflows into thanksgiving, and then into prayer. What is it that Paul is so joyful about?
He gives thanks with joy because of their partnership in the gospel. They had believed in Christ and joined Paul in following Christ and serving Christ. They were partners in the gospel. What a powerful description of what it means to be a Christian! We are not only receivers of the gospel, we are partners in the gospel. And, what is more, because of their partnership in the gospel, Paul is confident that God will complete the good work that he has begun in their lives. Let that be an encouragement to you: if God has begun a good work in you, know that he will bring it to completion. When I was growing up, there was a TV program that had as its catchphrase, “I’ve started, so I’ll finish.” The game show host would say that when the buzzer went in the middle of a question. “I’ve started, so I’ll finish.” In a sense, that is what God is saying in this passage. He has started this work, and so he’ll finish it. You may be going through some difficult times right now in your Christian life. But know this: if he has begun a good work in you, he will bring it to completion!
But if this is the reason for the joy that overflows into thanksgiving, what sort of prayer does that drive Paul towards? Paul prays that their love would abound more and more. That idea sounds familiar enough: of course, Christians should love, and their love should abound. But note in what way Paul prays that their love should abound. He prays that their love should abound in knowledge and depth of insight. We often put knowledge at conflict with love, but not the apostle. The way to grow in love is to grow in knowledge. Why? Such knowledge will help us be discerning – to know what is best. It is fairly easy to tell good from evil when it is clearly described in Scripture. But how do you tell the difference between what is good and what is better and what is best? For that you need wisdom. You need the kind of wisdom that is fueled by love through knowledge and depth of insight and that leads to discernment. This in turns leads to you being filled with the fruit of righteousness. This is the path to fruitfulness: love from knowledge that leads to discernment about what is best.
And all this to the glory and praise of God!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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