February 29, 2024 • Life for Leaders
Scripture—Philippians 1:4-6 (NIV)
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Gospel reminders between fellow co-laborers keep us focused. Paul sends a letter to the Philippians who are dear to him and he reminds them of their corporate partnership in the gospel. He also encourages them by what he sees: Paul is certain that what they have among them will enable them to continue to work on until Jesus’s return.
The drive-through to a local bank will always teach me the strength of my father’s determination and the strength of concrete. As I pulled out of the drive-through I learned that ‘76 Chevy Impalas are wide and concrete is not forgiving. We both stood at the end of the bank driveway, my father—clearly frustrated—staring into the depth of the dent and a bank teller laughing loudly through the thick plexiglass. The back quarter panel of the car stared sheepishly at me asking why would I do this to it, and I was calculating the number of blocks to walk home or at best to just sit in the back seat.
While Paul endured his own hurdles and barriers, he took time to send some people who were dear to him a gospel reminder. We all need someone—and to be someone—who reminds us what is promised for those who are called according to God’s purpose. The “yous” in Paul’s letter to the Philippians are plural. Whether they had corporate frustrations or individual hurdles, Paul gave them all both a reminder of what had happened and also encouragement of what was to come.
First, he reminded them that what had happened was corporate partnership. People in the city embraced the Gospel and its implications and the result was that they partnered with Paul in advancing the Gospel. Whether he was present with them or away they were active in supporting one another in this grace (Philippians 1:7). There was a reciprocity of prayer and love for one another. This reciprocity of love (Philippians 1:6; 4:1; 4:10) is what prompted the letter: Paul had received from the Philippians what they sent through another partner, Epaphroditus. He sent them a letter because of their support and repeatedly reminded them that they were working together.
About the time I felt the laughter from inside the bank is when I decided to just walk home. It was about then my dad must have known my thoughts. He handed me the keys and said “I told you that you were driving to the bank and you were driving home. Let’s go.” He was certain that whatever had happened to that point we were going to continue with the work and get home. His certainty brought about my perseverance.
Paul also reminded the Philippians of what was to come. They may not have wrecked anything but it was clear that they needed this reminder: The one who has begun this noble work among you all (plural pronoun in the Greek language) will carry it through till the day of Christ Jesus. God will bring everything to completion.
We all need good reminders from time to time of the truth of the Gospel. It is encouraging that this body of believers partnered in such noble work with the apostle. It is inspiring that this body of believers in the city of Philippi gave and received with Paul although they were not rich. But what adds to the beauty of these reminders is that Paul was convinced that their work was not in vain.
As you look at your activities, what spheres of your life do you see God using you to do what you know would not be achievable on your own merits?
Where has God positioned you to see the activities of others in such a way you see their progress and how God is making them successful?
What happens to the soul and heart when someone says “I believe in you?”
Who needs your letter of encouragement? Take some time in your own method to write (say, draw, sing, etc.) some simple words that remind them that you are certain that the good work they are doing will continue.
God, we praise you for the manifold messages that you are with us. You travel by smoke during the day and fire by night. You arrive in prisons as prison wardens or angels opening doors. You deliver fish and loaves, call out of sleep, pull out of wind and waves, and you tell us “I am with you.” Whether now or till the end of the age your persevering encouragement directly or through the hands and feet of others helps us make sense of the world and your calling. Teach us to be an “I am convinced that he who began this good work among you all” type of people toward others. In Jesus’s name, let it be so. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Supporting Each Other in Work (Philippians 4:10–11, 15–16)
DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.