I think it is fair to say that most people who study the Bible regularly eventually come to have a particular period of Bible history, or perhaps a particular book of the Bible, as their “favorite” to study. For me, it’s the book of Philippians. The church at Philippi was the first established by Paul during his journeys throughout Macedonia. As such, it seems that Paul had a special affection for the Christians there; just as they no doubt had for him. Paul’s letter to the Christians at Philippi is in large part an expression of thanksgiving. Those same things that cause Paul to be thankful should also cause us to be thankful.
First, Paul was thankful for his fellowship with those Christians who made up the church at Philippi. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;” ~ Philippians 1:3-5 (King James Version). Paul’s remembrances no doubt included the many prayers offered on his behalf along with the numerous sincere expressions of love and acts of kindness offered to him. Today, I’m thankful for the fellowship I share with other Christians. I’m especially thankful to be a part of an active congregation of the Lord’s church that expresses its love and offers kindness to others.
Second, Paul was thankful for the preaching of the gospel. “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice ~ Philippians 1:12-18 (King James Version). Some preached from sincere motives and some from insincere. In either case, Paul was thankful that the gospel was being proclaimed. Approximately two thousand years ago, on the Day of Pentecost, souls were saved when people heard the gospel of Christ preached to them, believed it, and then obeyed it. The same holds true today. People are saved as a result of hearing the gospel, believing it, and obeying it. Preaching is one way we as Christians continue to be strengthened. We should never perceive the preaching of the gospel as routine or mundane. Rather, it should always be considered as reason to rejoice and give thanks!
Third, Paul was thankful when an atmosphere of unity was present within the Lord’s church. “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others ~ Philippians 2:1-4 (King James Version). When we “talk sports” with others, we understand the importance of the athletes playing as a team – it’s a vital part of winning the game! When we discuss our employment, we understand the necessity of employees working together – i makes things go smoother and enables a business to be more productive! The Lord’s church is no different! Much can be accomplished when God’s people work together in an atmosphere of unity.
Fourth, Paul was thankful for the influence the Christians at Philippi had on those around them. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain ~ Philippians 2:14-16 (King James Version). Christians are to be persistent in overcoming their often harmful environment and strive to “shine as lights” among those around them. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven ~ Matthew 5:16 (King James Version).
Fifth, Paul was thankful for God’s constant provisions. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” ~ Philippians 4:11-13 (King James Version). Paul knew that, whatever his situation may be, God would not leave him neither forgotten nor abandoned. Friend, when you remain faithful to God, He will not leave you abandoned or forgotten.
What things cause you to be thankful?