Summary: Paul was passionate about the church. He had developed a personal relationship with them and knew their needs and concerns. Pastors, and those within the church, can glean much from the Apostle in this passage. We need the commitment and passion he had.
Passionate about the Church
Philippians 4: 1-3
In order to effectively lead a congregation of believers, the pastor must have a burden for the people within the congregation, while developing personal relationships with them. Paul understood this principle of leadership and provided a great example for pastors to emulate. While the Philippian letter is beneficial for the church at large, it could never be considered a generic letter, written without a particular people in mind. Our text reveals an intimate look into the life of Paul and the close relationship he enjoyed with the church at Philippi. He takes a moment to offer specific instruction regarding specific people and issues within this local body of believers.
There is much a pastor can glean from the leadership model revealed in these few verses. Like Paul, we need to know the people within our congregations, as well as the struggles and concerns they face. The congregation as a whole can glean much wisdom from these verses also. Paul desired the believers at Philippi to possess the same passion he had for the church. Each of us at Fellowship need to share the passion Paul had for the church. If we could develop this kind of passion and concern, our churches would grow spiritually and in number.
Let’s take a few moments to examine the details within the text as we think on: Passionate about the Church. First we notice:
I. The Delight of Paul (1) – Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. It cannot be denied that Paul found great joy in the church at Philippi. They brought great delight to him. This joy involved:
A. Their Position – Paul again referred to them as brethren. They were not mere acquaintances; these were fellow believers, being born again in Christ, and part of the family. They shared a closeness this world knew nothing of. Paul rejoiced for the relationship they shared in Christ.
I am aware that our church is made up of individuals who possess different personalities and gifts. There are times when we may not agree on every detail of ministry, but we will always be family. Our relationship in Christ exceeds any difference of opinion we may have.
B. The Affection – Twice in this verse, Paul referred to them as “dearly beloved.” He longed for them. Again, these were not just people he had casually met in life. The church at Philippi was very dear to the heart of Paul. His love for them was without question, and he was never afraid to express that love unto them. He never wanted anyone to wonder about his love and commitment for the church!
The love those within the church share comes from the Lord. There is no other way to explain it. There are bonds between those within the church that are often closer than the bonds shared between physical family members. As God assembles a local body of believers, He places a love for that people within our hearts. I was almost 40 years old before I met any on you, and yet I can honestly say that the Lord has placed a genuine love for you within my heart.
C. Their Contribution (1) – The benefits of being part of the church at Philippi were not one-sided. Paul reveals that he too benefited from their love and devotion to him. The church had contributed much that enriched the life of Paul. He spoke of their commitment to meeting his financial needs on numerous occasions, but that was not all the church did to benefit him. He described the church at Philippi as his “joy and crown.” They were a constant source of joy for Paul, and he considered them as his crowning achievement in ministry. They were literally his “reward, his trophy in ministry.” Surely Paul is looking forward to the time when they all stand before the Lord, and the believers in Philippi will stand as his joy and crown then as well.
The church in Philippi, being led of Paul, paints a beautiful picture of how a church should look. It reveals a committed, loving relationship between a pastor and the church he serves. They each have the other in mind, and are committed to each other. When a church is healthy, we all benefit from being associated with it.
D. The Exhortation (1) – so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. While the church in Philippi wasn’t perfect, Paul was well pleased with their efforts in ministry. They had carried on even in his absence, and he exhorts them to remain committed to the Lord. He wanted them to stand fast in the faith. John Butler described the exhortation as Paul’s desire for them to stand faithfully, firmly, and fearlessly.