In an earlier post I argued that the gospel is what unites Christians at a more fundamental and life-changing level than anything else. Paul’s relationship to the Philippians illustrates this in four ways, the first two of which we’ll look at below.
The first thing we see is that Paul is moved and motivated to intercede on behalf of the Philippians. Quite simply, he prays for them constantly.
I can’t even begin to think of Paul as the sort of man who would pull the hypocritical stunt that you and I are so often guilty of perpetrating on one another. How many times have you said to another Christian, perhaps in passing in the church atrium or down the hall, “It was good to see you; I’ll pray for you,” all the while knowing you have absolutely no intention of doing any such thing?
May I be so bold as to challenge you today, even as I issue the same challenge to my own soul, that if you promise to pray for another believer you actually carry through with your pledge? And that you not do it as a perfunctory performance or because you feel morally obligated or because you made a promise and “by golly I’m going to keep my word whether I feel like it or not,” but that you do it as Paul did, “with joy.”
“But Sam, life’s hard, and time is short, and my schedule is crammed full of things I can no longer afford to ignore. I might be able to devote a few minutes each day to praying for the needs of people, but how I am expected to do it with joy?”
Let me remind you of something. Paul isn’t writing this letter from an air-conditioned three-bedroom, two-bath, two-car garage home in a safe neighborhood in Oklahoma City or a condo in downtown Chicago! He’s writing this from a dark, damp, cramped prison cell most likely in either Rome or Caesarea. His freedom has been taken from him. His food is barely adequate to keep h