Summary: The Apostle Paul demonstrates in these six verses, four very simple, yet important ingredients to experiencing joy in any relationship.
Text: Philippians 1:3-8 (NASB)
Introduction: Tonight we will be examining a brief portion of scripture from the book of Philippians. This book was the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians that were living at Philippi. When Paul wrote this book, as he was inspired by the Holy Ghost, he was actually writing from prison. Paul was in prison because his teachings about Jesus Christ conflicted with the popular teachings of the day. The Apostle Paul was put in jail for creating a public disturbance.
The introductory information relevant to today’s passage comes from the book of Acts, chapter 16, where Dr. Luke records Paul’s first trip to Philippi and the people Paul introduced to a living relationship with Jesus Christ. These people became the first members of the diverse congregation at Philippi Community Christian Church.
The membership at Philippi Community Christian Church included the wealthy Asian female merchant, Lydia, and her household, a Greek slave girl, and the Roman jailer and his family. Not only was the membership diverse in ethnicity, but they were diverse in socioeconomic status.
To these diverse believers Paul wrote this joy-filled letter. I want to show you what I have discovered from the letter to the Philippians that made possible for joyful relating despite differences that would otherwise become barriers or causes for relational conflicts.
From the outside, people may think that we, Intercultural Assembly of God Church, are a homogenous church. However, anyone who has been with us for any amount of time knows that diversities have at times become barriers and causes for relational conflicts.
We have generation differences, philosophical differences, and cultural differences. We have professional and educational differences, and socioeconomic differences.
We also are different in what we consider fun and what we consider important. We differ in our preference for music and preference for worship style. I imagine that some of you would think that I had not done my homework unless I referred to Calvin at some point in my preaching, while others of you would wondered why I would mention Calvin and not Hobbes in the same sentence. That is the kind of diversity we have here in this church.
Philippians 1:3-8 (NASB) 3I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 7For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. 8For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
If I did not understand the Apostle Paul, I might think he was trying to butter up the Philippians, that is to say something nice in order to get what he wants. However, I do understand the Apostle Paul, and he is not one who uses flattery to manipulate. Paul was one who desired to please God and not people. Paul was one who spoke the truth, and he had to remind himself that truth-telling needs to have the motive of love rather than the motive of demonstrating superiority.
The Apostle Paul demonstrates in these six verses, four very simple, yet important ingredients to experiencing joy in any relationship. Let us look at them in the order they show up.
I. The Practice of Affirming
A. Philippians 1:3-5 (NASB) 3I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
B. Paul tells the Philippians that he values them and they bring him joy.
1. Paul counts them as partners in the important work of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.
2. When Paul said that the Philippians were partners in the gospel, he was pointing out their valuable contribution in spreading God’s message.
3. They contributed through their practical help when Paul was in Philippi and through their financial support when he was in prison.
C. If we want to experience joy in our relationships then we must begin by affirming the people that we are relating with.
D. You cannot enjoy those you criticize.
1. This is not to say that you overlook sin, or you do not correct those who are going to hurt themselves or others.
2. Nevertheless, there is enough good in the worse of us to affirm.
3. You can only enjoy those you affirm.