Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Fruit of Compassion

Devotion: Philippians 4:15-17

The Apostle Paul was grateful for the assistance he received from the Philippians. Thankfulness, indeed, is one of the themes of his letter to the Philippians. Yet, the Apostle does not want the Philippians to think that he is only writing to them because he has received their financial support. As the letter begins to draw to a close, the Apostle wrote:
"And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit." -Philippians 4:15-17 ESV
The Apostle takes time to remind the Philippians about his own story. The Apostle had, in a sense, prided himself on being self-supporting in his ministry efforts. He worked with his hands in the tent-making trade (see 1 Corinthinas 4:12 and Acts 18:3), which meant, more broadly, that he worked with leather and canvas. While in Corinth, to avoid being beholden to moneyed interests, the Apostle had refused support from the congregation there (see 1 Corinthians 9), but later stated that he had "robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve [the church in Corinth]" (see 2 Corinthians 11:7-11). It seems the congregation that Apostle had, 'robbed,' was the Philippians congregation as they financially supported him during his evangelistic efforts in Corinth and later in Thessalonica (see 1 Thessalonians 2:5), even though he mentioned some earlier trouble in Philippi to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:2, referring to the events of Acts 16:16-40).
The Apostle, assured that the Lord will provide and give endurance for any circumstance, is grateful for the support of the Philippians in the past and in the present. Yet, what he is most thankful for is not the gift, but the fruit of his ministry that is being demonstrated by the Philippians' generosity toward him. In essence, Paul is heartened because the Philippians, motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, have shown him compassion.
It is at this point that the Scripture intersects our lives. Where are you being moved by the compassion born of the Gospel to help others? If the answer is, "Nowhere and with no one," perhaps it is time to prayerfully examine your heart and let the Spirit once more apply the saving work of Christ to turn you out to the needs of others. Keep in mind that it is Christ Jesus who looks upon you with compassion as your Lord and Savior. If we are disciples of Christ how can we but long to be like him?

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