This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Pastoral Reflections on Philippians

“ . . . 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.” – Philippians 1:4-5

The Holy Spirit of God breathed these words through Paul for the Philippians’ encouragement and ours. So often people’s financial partnership with those on the front line in ministry can be taken for granted by those receiving and even those giving can count it as only a little thing. But the Lord does not. Paul genuinely thanked God for them due to their partnership with him.

These days, we tend to think of financial help as defining “support” but support is more than that. God views support as a partnership. Here it means that the supporting church is vitally involved and that the work is as much theirs as it was Paul’s. One might not be gifted in preaching or front line missionary endeavours as was Paul, but to enable someone to do such work makes the person or a church a partner in the service of the Lord. The reward from the Lord in a coming day will be as if they themselves were there on the front line.

When giving to the Lord in such a way, it puts the giver on front line ministry. Never underestimate the work of giving, for God sees it as in full partnership. One day the Lord will thank the giver with great reward. Never lose heart in giving for that can happen equally as much as it can happen to the person on the front line. Such partnership service can be as tiring as if doing the actual work yourself, but the Lord gives strength and encouragement to keep going.

We today might not literally be shipwrecked or bitten by snakes, not in prison or speaking to kings and rulers. Nor are we writing letters to churches, none of those things as was Paul, but we might even be in a harder position for the service we do can be similar. Thus it puts those in partnership on the same level. Every time one witnesses for Christ, they potentially speak to more important people than kings and rulers. They speak to future children of the King of Kings. They partner with many who serve the same king. Paul was in an ocean a day and a night and they swam to the shore but there might be no visible shore to the ocean of trials one faces in daily life and Christ is their only shore. One might not be bitten by snakes but the attacks one receives for standing for righteousness and truth can seem like it. Any letters of correction and love written to loved ones can be as painful to the soul as ever Paul experienced. The Lord understands and here in this text he calls such giving people “partners in the gospel” Do not underestimate the continual pressures the partner in the gospel faces. Being a partner can be a very tiring aspect of the work. The ocean of life at times hardly lets one gain a foot-hold, ensuring one clings to Christ continually.

Know today that those whom you partner with in the gospel will be giving joyous thanks to the Lord for you, and more than that, the Lord views your partnership as if you were on the front line.

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