“I thank my God for you every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel…” Php 1:3
Being in the trenches of the gospel for one another and praying for one another is a powerful force in forming community. It’s the fruit and blessing of corporate obedience, worship and work.
And the believers of this royal city were amazing partners in the gospel. Extraordinary actually. Where most people who serve in the cross-cultural advanced of gospel struggle to find financial partners for their work, the Philippians eagerly gave again and again.
The amazing thing is that they didn’t just write a check and then never think of Paul again or the work of the gospel beyond their borders. They prayed for him, stayed connected with him so they knew the needs, and when they couldn’t provide for him in one way they found another—they sent one of their own, Epaphroditus to work with him.
They even went beyond this. At one point they were in a most severe trial and by all reasonable standards were unable to give anything, they gave anyway, beyond their ability (2 Cor 8:1-4). They “urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will” (8:4-5).
When the going got not only tough, but severe, this group of believers didn’t shrink back like most but actually excelled. Their partnership in the gospel was perhaps unparalleled. They understood.
No wonder Paul’s heart welled up in joy when he prayed for these brothers and sisters of his. From the very first day they were receptive, obedient to the Lord and committed to the gospel. They loved Jesus and Jesus loved them. And they also loved Paul and Paul loved them. They never left the trenches with him. It was indeed cause for joy.