3 February 2020

Welcome to Monday’s Podcast.  This week I’ll pick up the baton from Helen Ward and we’ll continue to make our way through Paul’s letters. Today, Monday, brings us to the very end of Philippians – Chapter 4, verses 14-23

Today we’ll focus on verse 14-15:

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;

REFLECTION:

As a parent it feels like we are regularly facing an uphill task with trying to instil in our kids ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’.  A few days after Christmas we were in the city centre – at a well-known department store.  I was with our children – our youngest in the pushchair – so it meant we were navigating a very crowded store full of very focused bargain hunters. Because it was so busy and I was pushing a pushchair and herding 2 kids, I was constantly stopping & starting.  Swerving.  Braking and telling the kids to get out of the way of the hordeing shoppers.   As my irritation levels began to rise I knew it was an opportunity to model to our children saying ‘please and thank you’.

On one of the many times we waited to let shoppers clutching loads of bags get past us in the crowded spaces – I said to my eldest – ‘notice how many people don’t say thank you’.   She noticed two things (kids are so observant) – everyone was rushing; only a very few slowed down enough to thank us for allowing them to pass.  The point wasn’t to sit in judgment on the stressed out shoppers but highlight that saying ‘thank you’ acknowledges people. It recognises they have done something for you.  Even if it’s to allow someone to walk past – there’s something deeply honouring about saying thank you.

As we conclude our journey through Philippians – these final verses reveal Paul’s heart on the subject of thanksgiving and gratitude.

Paul thanks the Philippians for their generosity.  Specifically their financial support – which far exceeds (according to him) any other support he’s received on his missionary journeys.  Paul sees this financial contribution as more than money in the missionary coffers.  He sees it as partnership. It’s him on the ground – it’s him doing the battle – the very fact that the Philippians have his back financially – it encourages him so much as he views it as they are in it together.  That’s a really significant point.  Financial support – or putting it another way, financial partnership – is a fundamental part of missionary work.  It can so tempting to think – I ‘only give’ – well to Paul, financial giving is an integral part of the work.   For Paul you’re shoulder to shoulder in the mission field.

It’s an understatement to say he’s thankful.  But in these final words gratitude overflows in the form of honour.

If you have been around STC for a while you’ll have picked up we place value on thanksgiving.  For good reason – gratitude is a fruit of God’s grace in our lives.

Saying thank you as Paul does here is really powerful.

Mick, our church leader, has taught a lot on the power of saying thank you and it’s something I want to borrow for a moment.

Thanksgiving or saying ‘thank you’ acknowledges a person’s actions.  I’m not saying when we say ‘cheers’ or ‘thanks for that’ or a GIF or emoji.  I’m talking about when we stop, slow down and genuinely look someone in the eye or take the time to send a message ‘thank you for doing X – I am so grateful to you’.  And tell them why.

Saying thank you acknowledges others’ contributions.  A habit of saying thank you reveals a heart of gratitude, which is honouring to God and to people.

Only the other day I received an email – out of the blue – from a man I had helped in my previous church.  I haven’t heard from him in around 6 years.  He randomly got in touch to say thank you.  He didn’t need to do that.  But he took the time to send me an email to update me on his journey and to thank me for my part in it.  And do you know what – it was really blessed by it.  I was so grateful.

Saying thank you can change atmospheres.  If your workplace is tricky and you’re in a bit of a jam with your colleagues or your boss – one way of breaking the deadlock is to say thank you.  I’m not talking about being sycophantic – that’s not gratitude or honouring.  That’s something else.  Thanksgiving is the genuine desire to acknowledge somebody – to honour them – to see them as God sees them.  Who are the people today we can say ‘I’ve been meaning to say ‘I really appreciate this….’ Or ‘thank you for your support…’ and then say why.  Perhaps it’s sending a long text.  Go old school and send an email or even shock horror – write a letter.

In a world of ever increasing entitlement – break the flow – say thank you!

Gratitude reveals the heart of God.

PRAYER:

Lord, let us be a people of thanksgiving today!  Lord show us who we can honour.  Amen.

BIBLE READING: Philippians 4: 14-23

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. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. 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.

To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.