Developing an attitude of gratitude #11: thank you for the gift

As we draw to the end of this letter from Paul to the Philippians, Paul takes the opportunity to thank these people for the gifts they have sent to him. Say thank you. Never forget to say thank you. Say thank you every day for what others have done for you and given to you. Never take those offerings for granted.

These gifts that Paul receives mean more to him than their financial value. They show that the people have remembered him, even though they have never met him, and are concerned for him. These gifts show that they care about him.

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. Philippians 4:10

Paul has had good reason to feel isolated and abandoned. It appears that he has often felt ‘out of sight, out of mind’. He’s not felt supported in his work.

Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Philippians 4:14-16

You’ve heard it said ‘it’s the thought that counts’. So often,this is true. Giving of what we have to others and taking the time to think about them and what they really need at this moment requires thought and attention. It makes an individual know that they count, that they have not been forgotten. And that simple act of remembering is massively appreciated.

I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:18-19

It is in giving that we will receive. It is in giving that we demonstrate our complete trust in the God who will meet all our needs. We give out of the abundance of what we have been given. We have access to the riches of God’s glory in Christ Jesus. We are rich beyond measure.

Paul knew the reality of this in his own life. There’d been times when he hadn’t had enough to get by and other times when he’d been inundated with more than enough – and in all this, he had learned the secret of being content.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:11-13

Imagine living in the power that this knowledge can give! The freedom that comes with this level of contentment!

We say it, we sing it, but how often do we believe it enough to be content whatever the circumstances? The Lord’s my shepherd, I shall not want….my God shall supply all my needs…I can do all this through him who gives me strength…

It’s really tough to live with the confidence that God will provide when it really doesn’t look that way from where we’re standing. When we don’t believe we have enough, whether that is strength or resilience or love or money or food or skills or peace. That’s when we have to drag our gaze away from what we do not have, that gaping hole in our life, and turn our attention towards the God who is always there, who always provides, always protects. Not necessarily what we want, not necessarily even what we believe we need and most probably, not in the way we imagined, but that’s the immeasurable mystery of the God we serve, right?

To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  Philippians 4:20

Final word: this doesn’t let us off the hook. We are all in this together. God will provide, yes, but maybe God’s way of providing may be for us to share with one another, know each other’s needs, be generous with what we have, offer gifts to one another…and not just to our friends and family, but to those we don’t know personally, as the Philippians offered gifts to Paul. Actually not maybe, definitely. This is how God works. We can be a part of the answer, a part of God’s provision. As we turn our gaze away from our own needs, knowing that they are in the safe hands of the God of the universe, we can pay attention to the needs of others.

And there I will leave you for this month, friends.

See you next month in the letter to the Colossians!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Philippians 4:23

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