I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Philippians is rightly called a book of joy and thanksgiving. In his opening section to this church, Paul is writing about his thankfulness to God and his joy for this church because of their partnership in the gospel. Paul was full of joy because this church was helping him to make Christ known to the point where they actively supporting Paul in his imprisonment and were helping him to defend and confirm the truth of the gospel.
This type of joy and thanksgiving is what I would call a gospel-centered joy and thanksgiving. It flows from seeing the truth of the gospel go forth through His people. It flows from seeing God’s people actively engage in the work of the ministry to the point of it actually costing them something. So Paul, looking at the Philippian church was full of joy because they were doing the work of proclaiming Christ with him even if it was costly and hard.
So for us today we should be over-joyed when we see people working hard for the gospel, proclaiming Christ, and building up the church. But we should also realize that it is a joy and privilege for us to engage in the work of the ministry, the work of proclaiming Christ. Paul was full of joy because the Philippian church was engaged with him in ministry.
We to receive joy as we partner with others in the work of the ministry as we proclaim the gospel together and as we defend the faith and even at times suffer for it. As James writes in James 1:2:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
James mentioned various trials, but he surely had persecution in view in this verse. And he knew that persecution and suffering for Christ resulted in joy. So too, we receive joy as we suffer for Christ as we boldly proclaim the truth of the cross without shame our hesitancy and as we see others partnering with us to make Christ known.
However, there is more…
Paul, also makes it clear to this church that their gospel service comes from God. God is the one who began a good work in their lives, and it is this good work that is ultimately leading them to join with Paul in his ministry. And it will be God, who of His own doing, will bring that good work to completion when Jesus returns.
This is Paul giving them the assurance of their salvation and what God is doing and will do in them through Christ, but it is also a confirmation of their gospel service to Paul. Meaning, that Paul can confidently make this statement about the Philippians because He sees God working in them and through them.
In the same way we should take heart that God has begun a good work in each one of us as His people, and He will be the one to complete that work. Meaning that our growth in godliness has everything to do with God working on our behalf and not on our own efforts. Yet, this good work should be evident in us and through as we serve God’s people and as we proclaim Christ.
In this way God is calling us to receive joy as we partner together to do the work of the ministry. And today this is done primarily through the local church as we join together to serve one another and to fulfill the work of the great commission in our communities and across he globe. But God is also reminding us that our gospel service is a confirmation of the good work God is doing within us and will do until the day Christ returns.
So take joy by serving God’s people and doing the work of the ministry, and be assured that God is doing a good work in you that He will finish. It is not dependent upon you, but upon His power and Spirit. And in this may you find the confidence and joy you need to make that good work evident as live and walk boldly for the cause of Christ.