Together in Christ: 'Sweet Words We Need to Say!' — Philippians 1:3

Sunday, November 24, 2024

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
— Philippians 1:3 NLT

Key Thought

Paul gives these words of tender affirmation to Christians in a good church facing a challenging time with some internal divisions. [1] Paul loved these brothers and sisters in Philippi, made a point to visit them when possible and let them support him financially as a partner. [2] He also used these Macedonian believers as an example of loving sacrifice and generosity while they faced difficult trials. [3]

We can find faults, failings, and disappointments in every group of believers. These problems should be addressed lovingly and in the context of what they are facing. [4] However, Satan wants us to use some faults in congregations and the believers who make up those congregations to "write them off" as viable, healthy, good churches. I've shared the problem with the congregation with whom I share spiritual life: They are all flawed people similar to me! None of us has arrived at perfection, so as Jesus said, we need to get the plank out of our eyes before worrying others about the sawdust in theirs. [5] Paul indicated that he did not consider himself to have arrived at the place he wanted to be as a follower of Jesus. [6]

My point is this: we need to affirm our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to tell them they are valued and appreciated. We should express our love for them and our thanks for their good deeds. The Philippians were far from perfect, but that did not stop Paul from expressing his love for them, appreciating their faithfulness, and rejoicing in his relationship with them. Just as God affirmed his relationship, love, and appreciation for His son, [7], we should do something similar with other believers. We can focus on catching people doing good, right, and faithful things instead of picking apart every little thing they do to find some flaw that makes us feel superior. [8] Bottom line: Who is someone you need to say, "Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God"? I bet they need to hear that from someone just as much as you do!

[1] While we often label Philippians the book of joy, Paul would not have to command them — Philippians 3:1, 4:4-5 — to rejoice if they were doing it! They faced opposition from outside — 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 — and division within the congregation — Ephesians 4:2-3. However, they were exemplary people in many ways and didn't need those problems to become their identity!
[2] Acts 19:21-22, 20:1-3; 1 Corinthians 16:5; 2 Corinthians 1:16, 2:13, 7:5; Philippians 4:15.
[3] 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.
[4] Paul balances his overwhelming love with his need to correct in the letter of Philippians.
[5] Luke 6:41-42.
[6] Philippians 3:12-14.
[7] Luke 3:21-22.
[8] Paul includes words of affirmation to every congregation, group of house churches, and regional churches except in his letter to the Galatians. Even Corinth, widely known to have many problems, Paul found good things to affirm in their faith — 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 — in a letter where he corrected, reprimanded, and rebuked them for their worldliness and sin — 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 is one example among many rebukes.

Today's Prayer

Loving Father, you have placed many wonderful people in my life. I have not deserved their love, attention, help, and friendship. Nevertheless, I am deeply thankful that You brought them into my life. Forgive me for taking their fellowship and friendship for granted. Please open my eyes to see the things I can affirm about them and to them. O Father, please help me to be a more grateful and supportive friend, I ask. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • 2 Corinthians 8:1-5
  • Philippians 4:1-20


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About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.