“I thank my God 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 from the first day until now,…” (Philippians 1:3-5a)
How many of us had a best friend during our childhoods? Probably all of us. In fact, we probably have had two or three “best” friends, if that were logically possible. But what made a person qualify as your best friend? I’m sure there was time spent playing together, sharing meals, sleepovers, birthday parties, sports, school activities and of course the fights which led to immediate decisions to recant the term best friend — at least for a day or two. The principle root was you had things in common and agreeable personalities. Think about that person now. Are they still your best friend? Are you all still really close and share lives? For some of us, that closeness is a reality. For most of us, significant changes have occurred in our lives that have altered the relationship. Changed values, distance, or other circumstances are some of the things that can change the intimacy of relationships. But is there a constant that can maintain and strengthen our relationships despite the temporal changes that we will all experience?
Relationships are spiritual in origin and nature. God is triune in nature – The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. Within the Godhead, there is perfect oneness among each member. All throughout Scripture, we read of the perfect relationship between each member of the Godhead. The Father loves and glorifies the Son. The Son loves and glorifies the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit glorifies the Son and the Father. There is an inexplicable divine flow of relational purpose and perfection within the Godhead.
As believers, we’re part of one body, filled with one Spirit for one purpose. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” One way to glorify God on earth is to propagate the gospel of Jesus Christ for the building and strengthening of His kingdom. To do this according to God’s flawless design we are to display our redemption relationally by the enabling of the Spirit. Because we were called into fellowship with His Son (1 Corinthians 1:9), congruently this calls us into fellowship with one another as we are members of one another (Romans 12:5). In fulfilling God’s design, He is glorified and we are individually and corporately strengthened as the virtues of godliness flow through us, among us and from us. This is why Paul was joyfully thankful to God for the Philippians partnership in the gospel.
The Philippian church partnered with Paul by sending a financial gift to Paul while in Thessolonica that enabled him to meet his practical needs (Philippians 4:14-16) while going through harsh persecution (Acts 17:1-9). They exercised their spiritual gift of giving despite their less than affluent circumstances. But let’s be careful not to miss the underlying issue. The motive for the Philippians gift, was their love for God and love for man. Their love for God and man compelled them to support the work of God (Paul’s ministry) to the Thessalonians to display the love of God. Their financial and prayer support was solid evidence of the working of the Spirit in their lives for Christ’s glory. This is the transcendent constant that distinguishes spiritual relationships (Christ’s glorification) from worldly relationships (self gratification).
May our relationships with one another be energized, thrive and sustain on this divine truth for the glory of Christ.