Have you ever asked yourself, “How may I glorify God?” We tend to think the answer to that question is some extraordinary response that requires a radical life change. Well, that may be true in some cases. But what if I told you that simply being an ordinary faithful supporting partner with gospel workers in order to advance our mission is both God-glorifying and joy-resulting? If you don’t believe me, read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In fact, you only have to read a few verses to see this reality.
A Philippian Example
The Philippians’ ordinary faithful gospel partnership with Paul resulted in Paul giving thanks to God (Philippians 1:3) with joy (Philippians 1:4). Why? Because of the Philippians’ “partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:5). Do you remember Lydia? She and her household were the first recorded converts in Philippi (Acts 16:14-15). Remember when Paul was beaten and put in jail in Philippi, then after the earthquake, the Philippian jailer came to faith in Christ, along with his entire household (Acts 16:27-34)? From the church’s beginning, they have been in gospel partnership with Paul.
It’s helpful to ask, though, what that partnership entailed because when we think of partnerships, we think primarily of financial support. Gospel partnerships will likely mean that, but, from Philippians, we learn that faithful ordinary gospel partnerships entail so much more. The Philippians partnered with Paul by offering prayer support (Philippians 1:18-20). Paul was in prison when he wrote them, likely in Rome awaiting his trial before Caesar (Acts 28:17-31). And yet, Paul was confident that he would be released from prison because of their prayers and the Holy Spirit (Philippians 1:19).
They also partnered with Paul by living a life worthy of the gospel and standing firm in the faith (Philippians 1:27-30; 2:14-18; 4:1). That is, they partnered with Paul in advancing the gospel by simply being ordinary faithful Christians in Philippi. And, of course, they did what most gospel partners do. They sent Paul some help – Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30) and some money (Philippians 4:10, 14-18). Epaphroditus brought Paul a financial gift from the church, then stayed to care for him in jail.
How We Can Work Together
As a church – and even as individuals – when we enter into gospel partnerships, Philippians helps us understand how to be faithful supporters of gospel workers. Every one of us can pray for the advance of the gospel and for the gospel workers themselves. Every one of us should be pursuing holiness and sharing with unbelievers the good news of Jesus’s substitute life, death, and resurrection on behalf of repentant sinners. Every one of us should desire to give generously. And every one of our churches can have a part in sending personnel support to gospel workers in the field. But some of us will be that personnel support. Is there any reason why you can’t be Epaphroditus to the gospel workers your church supports: short-term, during vacation, for a season, as a vocation?
Faithful gospel partnerships glorify God – of course, as they strategically advance the gospel. But the emphasis in Philippians 1:3-5 is the glory of God when our gospel partners are moved to joy-filled thanksgiving to him because of our ordinary faithful partnership. This kind of joy-filled, thanksgiving-producing gospel partnership was not unique to the Philippians. As Paul reminds the Corinthians:
Now the one who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will also provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the proof provided by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedient confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone. And as they pray on your behalf, they will have deep affection for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:10-15)
Have you ever asked yourself, “How may I glorify God?” Well, here is one answer. When our gospel partners are encouraged by our faithful ordinary partnership in the gospel, they will be encouraged and filled with joy and moved to thanksgiving – all to the glory of our great God.