Philippians 1:3-11

Do you ever wish you were like Robinson Crusoe, living alone on a
desert island away from difficult people? Would that be paradise to
you?

The apostle Paul came to realize his
need for other people. When Paul came into a relationship with the
person of Christ, he moved from a user of people to a lover of
people. Writing from a Roman prison cell in A.D. 61, Paul was near
death, inflicted with pain, acutely aware of persecution, yet foremost
for him were his relationships.

From Paul’s example and his writings we can learn what it takes to enjoy the people in our lives.

Thank God for the people in your life (v. 3).

At
Philippi, Paul was arrested illegally, whipped, humiliated, and
thrown in prison. Yet when he looked back he doesn’t dwell on the
negative experiences, he thought of his friends. And for them he gave
thanks. Paul wanted to leave no doubt about his gratitude for the
people in his life.

Thankfulness is an
exquisite form of courtesy. People who enjoy the companionship of good
close friends are quick to thank their friends for their many
expressions of kindness.

Become a team in a venture together (v. 5).

The
Philippians weren’t just friends they were co-laborers in spreading
the message of Jesus Christ, fighting along side. They were a team.

Team
is reflected in the word partnership translated from the Greek
koinonia. The word is translated as partnership, fellowship,
communion, fellow-working, and sharing together. It means sharing or
participating with someone in an experience.

When
I think of the team that Paul had in the first century, I’m reminded
of the team that the modern day Paul, Billy Graham, has today. The
world famous evangelist has done more for the cause of Christ in the
modern era than anyone alive. Yet Mr. Graham has had a terrific team
including the likes of Cliff Barrows, Bev Shea, and Grady Wilson.
They have been with him since the beginning of Mr. Graham’s ministry.
I suspect he would say he could not have accomplished all that he has
without this group of gifted and talented teammates. They have been
with him to support, share the work, and encourage each other.

Be patient with their progress (v. 6).

When
Paul looked at the people in his life, he looked at their future and
their potential. Paul knew that what God starts, God finishes. The
words began and completion are like bookends of life. They were
technical terms that were used to indicate the beginning and ending
of sacrifices. The One who lives within them has started or begun a
good work in their lives (past tense), and will continue this work
(present tense) until the day of Jesus Christ will complete it (future
tense). Or as someone once wrote of God, “The work You have in me
begun/ Will by Your grace be fully done.” Paul believed God had the
power to change human personality.

We can
do much to encourage and affirm the people in our lives. It helps to
remember not just how far they have to go, but how far in which they
have come.

Be affectionate from the heart (vv. 7-8).

The
word affection means bowels. In the first century it was believed
that the intestines, the stomach, the liver held the most tender
parts of human emotions. Regardless of its source, Paul loved these
people with tender affection and devotion.

If
people aren’t on our hearts, they’re on our nerves. When we love from
the heart it changes the people in our lives and us.

Practice positive praying (vv. 4, 9-11).

Notice
the repetition of the word all: All my prayers . . . all of you . . .
always with joy. That means that every time Paul prayed he prayed for
all his friends with the spirit of delight.

Praying
for the people in your life will change your attitude and change
them. People may resist our advice, spurn our appeals, reject our
suggestions, not listen to our help; but they are powerless against
our prayers.

___________________
Sermon
brief provided by: Rick Ezell, a pastor and author in
Naperville, IL

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