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LESSON 12: THE NEED FOR GRATEFULNESS
by Dr. Fred Wittman
“10But I rejoiced in0 Lord greatly because once at last you flourished again, with reference to the process of minding in behalf of me, for whom you& also were continually minding, but you& were being without opportunity. 11Not that I am speaking[saying] in respect to deficiency; for I myself learned[by practice, to be trained intimately as a disciple], in what& |ever circumstances| I am, to be content[self-sufficient]. 12I am aware also to be humbled repeatedly and I am aware to be in abundance repeatedly. In everything and in all places I have learned[by practice, to be trained intimately as a disciple] the secret[by initiation] both to be satisfied with food and to be hungry, both to be abounding and to be lacking[deficient]. 13With reference to all~ things I prevail by means of Christ Who keeps empowering me. 14Nevertheless you& did well by means of fellowshipping together with my /affliction[tribulation]. 15Now O Philippians, you& also yourselves are aware that in The Gospel’s 0beginning[in Europe], when I departed away from Mahk-ehdoh-néeah, not one church fellowshipped with me in an account of giving and of receiving except yourselves only. 16Because even in Thehs-sahloh-néekay even once, in fact[emphatic use] twice, you& sent unto my /need. 17Not that I am anxiously seeking the gift, but on the contrary, I am anxiously seeking the fruit which keeps abounding unto your& /account. 18Now I am receiving in full all~ things and I am in abundance. I stand fully filled since |I| hospitably received from alongside of Ehpah-fróhdeetohs the~ things from alongside you&, an odor of sweet-fragrance, an accepted sacrifice, well-pleasing to The God. 19Now The God of mine shall fully fulfill your& every need according to His /wealth in glory[exaltation with majestic radiant splendor] by means of Christ Jesus. 20Now to The God and Father of ours |be| the glory[exaltation with majestic radiant splendor] for ever and evermore! Amen!” (Phil.4:10-20 APT).
The Philippians had maintained a consistent fellowship through the years with the apostle Paul, their missionary to the rest of the world. The most recent sacrificial gift was sent via Epaphroditus when he was imprisoned at Rome. The occasion of the Philippian Epistle was an acknowledgment, an expression of gratitude and gratefulness for the gift that was recently sent. Paul had stated in the Ephesian letter that we should give thanks always for all things unto The God and The Father in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ (Eph.5:20). “And repeatedly give thanks all the time about all things to The God and Father in The Lord of ours, Jesus Christ’s name” (Eph. 5:20 APT). He emphasized the need for continual gratefulness. Now there was an opportunity for him to demonstrate gratefulness to the Philippians because of their abundant care and the generous gift that they had sent to him.
One of the characteristics of the last days is unthankfulness or ungratefulness (2 Tim.3:2). Amid an increasing and spreading attitude of ingratitude, the Christian should be marked by a demonstration of gratefulness always in all things. There should be a distinct difference between the worldling and the child of The God in the matter of gratefulness. In addition, The God has done so much for us through The Lord Jesus Christ that we, as children of The God, need to demonstrate gratefulness always in all circumstances.
I. GRATEFUL FOR RENEWED CARE (vs.10-14).
“10But I rejoiced in 0Lord greatly because once at last you flourished again, with reference to the process of minding in behalf of me, for whom you& also were continually minding, but you& were being without opportunity. 11Not that I am speaking[saying] in respect to deficiency; for I myself learned[by practice, to be trained intimately as a disciple], in what& |ever circumstances| I am, to be content[self-sufficient]. 12I am aware also to be humbled repeatedly and I am aware to be in abundance repeatedly. In everything and in all places I have learned[by practice, to be trained intimately as a disciple] the secret[by initiation] both to be satisfied with food and to be hungry, both to be abounding and to be lacking[deficient]. 13With reference to all~ things I prevail by means of Christ Who keeps empowering me. 14Nevertheless you& did well by means of fellowshipping together with my /affliction[tribulation]” (vs. 10-14).
Renewed care by means of the recent gift that Paul received from the Philippians gave him a special reason to be grateful. At the same time that renewed care demonstrated the Philippians’ gratefulness for God’s love and salvation and Paul’s ministry to them in bringing The Gospel to Philippi and establishing the church.
A. A Generous Gift (v.10).
The generous gift that Paul received reflected the Philippians’ care and concern.
“10But I rejoiced in 0Lord greatly because once at last you flourished again, with reference to the process of minding in behalf of me, for whom you& also were continually minding, but you& were being without opportunity” (v.10 APT).
He described it as their considerate thought concerning him that has flourished afresh. The concept of the words for ‘flourished afresh’ is borrowed from a horticultural term used to denote that plants and flowers were blooming again. There is an indication that a time has lapsed since the previous gift was sent to him. This lapse is seen in the words “now at last.” Both this phrase and the word for ‘flourished afresh’ indicate that time has past since he received a financial gift from them. Though they did not communicate with Paul financially for a season, they continually gave considerate thought to him. The present infinitive indicates they were continually minded of him and his needs. For some reason they were unable to send a gift for some time. Paul was aware that they lacked opportunity. Either they were going through hardship financially (an aftermath of the affliction and economic difficulty indicated by 2 Cor. 8:1,2) or The Holy Spirit of God did not give them peace to communicate with him again until now.
“1Now, O brothers, we make known to you& the grace of The God which has been given among the churches of /Mahkeh-dohneah, 2that in much experiential proof after examination by tribulation[affliction] the superabundance of their /joy and their /dire[down upon depth] poverty became in abundance in regard to the wealth$ of the generosity of theirs” (2 Cor. 8:1,2 APT).
The word ‘flourish’ indicates that it was a generous gift that Paul received. It reflected care and concern. It also reflected their gratefulness for all that The Lord Jesus Christ had done for them, especially through the apostle Paul. Generous giving to the support of God’s servants is an excellent way to show gratefulness to Christ for all He has done for us. It is the way God uses to care for His servants to other places (the missionaries).
B. A Gracious Attitude (vs.11-13).
Paul reflected a gracious attitude by describing the joy he had when he received their gift. He rejoiced greatly in their renewed care. Though there was increased joy when he received the gift, he expressed his contentment in all circumstances .
1. Satisfied in all circumstances (vs. 11,12).
Paul was quick to eliminate any implication that he was discontent while waiting for a gift, or that he had need and he felt that they should have cared for his need. He wrote, “Not that I am speaking[saying] in respect to deficiency; for I myself learned[by practice, to be trained intimately as a disciple], in what& |ever circumstances| I am, to be content[self-sufficient]” (v. 11 APT). It didn’t matter what the circumstances were. Always, in all circumstances he was content. In all circumstances he could demonstrate gratefulness to The God and to The God’s people who cared for him. He rejoiced greatly in receiving the gift, but he was content while he suffered lack before he received the gift.
“I am aware also to be humbled repeatedly and I am aware to be in abundance repeatedly. In everything and in all places I have learned[by practice, to be trained intimately as a disciple] the secret[by initiation] both to be satisfied with food and to be hungry, both to be abounding and to be lacking[deficient]” (v. 12 APT).
He had learned by practice to be content wherever he was, in whatever circumstances he found himself. He had gained insight into the sufficiency of God so that he knew how to be abased and how to abound. He had been taught and initiated into the state of contentment while being filled and while being hungry. He learned the secret of contentment and put it into practice in his life (cf. 1 Tim. 6:6-8; Heb. l3:5).
“6But /godly piety [in company]with contentment[self-sufficiency, a philosophy tech. term: independence ofcircumstances] is a great means of gain. 7For we brought in not one~ thing into the World. Clearly,[Ps. 49:17; Eccl. 5:15] ‘We are able to take[bring] out not even one~ thing.’ 8But /godly piety with contentment is a great means of gain. For we brought in not one thing into the World. Clearly, ‘We are able to take out not even one thing.’ But having sustenance and coverings, we will be sufficed with these. But the ones desirously willing to be rich are customarily falling in into: testing[to prove] and a snare and many stupid and injurious cravings[lusts], which submerge the humans into termination and utter destruction” (1 Tim. 6:6-8 APT).
“. . . your manner: not fond of [metonymy, cause for effect: silver]money! Continually be sufficed ones with the present things! For He Himself has said, I positively shall not[double negative] neglect you$! I positively shall not[triple negative], definitely not forsake you$!” (Heb. 13:5 APT).
He demonstrated a gracious attitude and expressed his joy in receiving their gift.
2. Strengthened in all things (v. 13).
He stated the reason for his contentment by saying, “With reference to all~ things I prevail by means of Christ Who keeps empowering me.” (v. 13 APT). It was Christ who enabled him, empowered him, poured power into him to endure whatever hardships and difficulties he faced in whatever circumstances he was put. In everything he did, he recognized that his enabling and empowering came from God.
C. A Genuine Acclamation (v. l4).
A joyful commendation also reflected Paul’s gratefulness in the words, “Nevertheless you& did well by means of fellowshipping together with my /affliction[tribulation]” (v. 14 APT). The word ‘fellowship,’ so prevalent throughout this Epistle, is seen again here. They contributed to him in his affliction as he suffered need in the prison at Rome. He commended them for caring for him again. This joyful commendation reflecting his gratefulness was a genuine acclamation, a statement of commendation and approval to encourage them. It was sincere praise from a full and grateful heart cheered by such an expression of love in the midst of affliction, “you& did well.”
II. GRATEFUL FOR REGULAR FELLOWSHIP (Phil. 4:15,16).
“15Now O Philippians, you& also yourselves are aware that in The Gospel’s 0beginning[in Europe], when I departed away from Mahk-ehdoh-néeah, not one church fellowshipped with me in an account of giving and of receiving except yourselves only. 16Because even in Thehs-sahloh-néekay even once, in fact[emphatic use] twice, you& sent unto my /need.” (Phil. 4:15,16 APT).
A. He Declared Their Faithful Fellowship (vs. 15,16).
Paul gratefully recalled the fellowship that they had with him in The Gospel. In the very beginning of preaching The Gospel in Europe at Philippi they reciprocated in fellowship.
1. When he left Macedonia (v. 15).
There was no other church that communicated or sent funds to him in Fellowship of The Gospel by giving and receiving, except the Philippian church. After he departed from Macedonia, they alone continued their Fellowship in The Gospel.
2. While he was in Thessalonica (v. 16).
Even while he was still in Macedonia at Thessalonica, they had sent financial aid to his need twice within three weeks (Acts 17:2-10). ‘Giving and receiving’ is a term that describes the matter of Fellowship in The Gospel. You cannot give without receiving. Paul stated the reason why he was so grateful and why he called it ‘giving and receiving.’ While he received the product of their giving, they received the product of his giving of himself in the work of The Lord as well as The God’s care for their material needs.
B. He Desired Fruit Reckoned To Their Account (v. 17).
“Not that I am anxiously seeking the gift, but on the contrary, I am anxiously seeking the fruit which keeps abounding unto your& /account” (Phil. 4:17 APT).
Here Paul used a bookkeeping concept to illustrate the spiritual truth of fellowship and to clarify what he meant by ‘giving and receiving.’ The God was adding to the credit side of their account fruit that shall abound. On the debit side was their gift to The Lord sent to meet Paul’s needs. So because they gave to Paul so that he could minister, to maintain and to sustain him in prison, they were going to be credited with the fruit of his ministry--the souls that he won to The Lord Jesus Christ during the time their gift sustained him. Because Paul preached The Gospel throughout the whole castle and the soldiers of the Praetorian guard had heard The Gospel through his ministry, any souls that were won to The Lord Jesus Christ following his receipt of their gift would be accounted as won by them. He desired for them to receive credit as well as himself for the souls won to The Lord Jesus Christ. When all the saints stand before The God in Heaven, those churches who stood behind their missionaries will share alike in the recognition of the fruit of their labor. Review the story of David and his men in 1 Samuel 30. Note especially verses 9,10,21-24.
“9So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed. 10But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor. . . . 21 And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them. 22Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart. 23Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand. 24For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike” (1 Sam. 30:9,10,21-24)
Just as David shared the spoil taken in battle with the men who ‘stayed by the stuff,’ so The God will give the credit to both those who labored and those who enabled them to labor for The Lord by staying behind by the stuff. What a glorious truth! Out of gratefulness, Paul delighted in sharing the fruit he reaped with the Philippians who contributed to his support in order that both may rejoice in The Day of Christ.
C. He Delighted Fully in Their Sacrificial Giving (v. 18).
“Now I am receiving in full all~ things and I am in abundance. I stand fully filled since |I| hospitably received from alongside of Ehpah-fróhdeetohs the~ things from alongside you&, an odor of sweet-fragrance, an accepted sacrifice, well-pleasing to The God” (Phil. 4:18 APT).
The apostle Paul delighted so much in the gift the Philippians sent via their pastor that he exulted and used overstatement or exaggeration to express his feelings. Compared to his deep need he abounded and felt like he had everything. He was filled to the fullest while they had need He described the sacrifice that he had received from them in the same glowing terms that he used to describe the sacrifice of Christ (Eph. 5:2). The similarity of language demonstrates the preciousness of sacrificial giving to The God’s bondslaves. The Holy Spirit moved Paul to write of the Philippians’ sacrifice in the same language as that used to describe The Christ’s sacrificial death. Paul fully delighted in gratefulness for their sacrificial giving and spoke of it as an aroma of a sweet-smelling sacrifice which is acceptable and well-pleasing to The God. Think of it! A congregation of The God’s people can please The God with a sweet smelling sacrifice by sacrificially giving to God out of a grateful heart in order that the needs of God’s bondslaves, their missionaries can be cared for during their ministry.
III. GLORIOUS RICHES OF GOD (v. 19).
“Now The God of mine shall fully fulfill your& every need according to His /wealth in glory[exaltation with majestic radiant splendor] because of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19 APT).
Paul recognized that because they gave so sacrificially and abundantly the Philippians were now in need. They could not give so large a gift to him unless their selfless sacrifice resulted in corporate and in some cases even personal need. No doubt Paul was grateful to be able to remind them of God’s riches and grace. He assured them, “He will supply all your corporate need!” So often this verse of Scripture is quoted to a missionary about to leave for the field. “God will supply all your need!” This is not what is meant by Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians. Here the missionary is saying to the supporting church that has sacrificed and depleted their own resources in order to give to him so that his needs be met, “God shall supply your every need!” The question that comes to mind is, How will The God do this? Paul uses two expressions to describe the measure, the manner, and the reason of supply of the congregation’s need, but he does not mention the means by which He will supply! It must come through the God’s saints loving, faithful, and abundant rendering of The God’s portion to the local church.
A. “According To God’s Riches In Glory.”
Paul used the word for “according to” rather than “out of” to describe the supply of all their need. By this expression he indicated the measure and manner of supply rather than the source. Think of all the riches of The God in His glory and all the resources that are at His disposal! The measure of supply is according to those riches in glory that He will supply all the needs of all the sacrificially-giving people of those Scripturally-optating congregations who deplete their own resources for His glory and for the proclamation of The Gospel. The God will not be stingy in meeting the needs of those who sacrificially give in order that the missionary bondslaves may go. He will mete out the replacement of the resources needed because of sacrificially giving. (Remember the meaning of sacrificial--the giving up or offering of something precious.) The God will replenish the resources, not from out of His riches but it will be according to the measure of His riches in a manner worthy of such wealth as His.
B. “Because of Christ Jesus.”
Why will The God so abundantly supply their need? Why not replace amount for amount? Because not one can out-give The God. He will give abundant interest on what is given on behalf of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 9:7-11; Mt. 13:23).
“7Each one according as he for himself chose beforehand in his heart, not out of grief [Deut. 15:10] or out of necessity, for The God loves a cheerfully generous[hilarious] giver. 8Now The God is Powerful+ to cause every grace to be in abundance unto you& in order that you&, having all contentment independent of circumstances in all things all the time, be in abundance unto every beneficially good work. 9According as it stands written,[Ps. 112:9] he scattered[Prov. 11:24] he gave to the needy ones; the righteousness of his continually abides for /ever. 10Now may[optative of wish] The One, abundantly supplying seed to the one sowing, both fully supply bread for eating and multiply your& sown seed and increase the products[what is produced] of the righteousness of yours&, 11being ones enriched in everything unto all generosity^, whichever^ performs through us thanksgiving to The God” (2 Cor. 9:7-11 APT).
“23But the one |receiving seed| being sown upon the intrinsically /good soil[earth], this is the one hearing The Word and understanding, who indeed continually bears fruit and produces[makes or does]: on the one hand the one, one hundred |times|[= 10,000%]; but on another hand the one, sixty |times|[= 6000%], but on still another hand the one, thirty |times|[= 3000%]” (Mt. 13:23 APT).
The manifold interest that The God adds to that which has been sown as seed of The Gospel by His bondslaves is 3000, 6000, and 10,000 percent. Certainly Jesus Christ will be interceding for those who have sacrificed for Him. The God will abundantly care for those who experience need because they took care of His bondslaves for Christ’s sake.
IV. GRATEFUL GLORY RENDERED TO GOD (Phil. 4:20).
“Now to The God and Father of ours |be| the glory[exaltation with majestic radiant splendor] for ever and evermore! Amen!” (Phil. 4:20 APT).
A. Gratefulness Reflected.
The adversative conjunction ‘but’ calls attention to the proceeding contents of the paragraph. His gratefulness: for their continuing fellowship since he knew them, for their renewed care for him, for The God’s sustaining grace in whatever state of circumstances he found himself, for The God’s enabling strength to face all hardships and difficulties, and for The God’s riches supplying their needs. This encompassing gratefulness is reflected in the ‘but.’ In essence he said, “However strong I am to bear all things, however needful you are, however much The God supplies, let no praise be unto us, but be grateful to The God for it all.
B. Glory Rendered.
Paul exults in gratefulness by breaking into a doxology. This doxology expresses the gratitude and thanks of his heart for: all The God’s goodness and grace, for their faithful fellowship, and for The God’s care for their need. While in prison Paul was filled with joy. He encouraged the Philippians to join him in ascribing all glory unto our God and The Father. Exalt Him with all gratitude, praise, honor, adoration, homage, worship, and thanksgiving. Glorify Him throughout all ages forever! Let Him, Who is glorious with all the riches of glory at His disposal, be glorified now and forever! Amen!
Because of the abundant care through a sacrificial gift the Philippians sent to Paul via Ehpahfróhdeetohs, he had reason to be grateful and needed to demonstrate gratefulness. There was a need for Paul to take this opportunity to practice what he taught the Ephesians (Eph. 5:20 quoted in INTRODUCTION). Because God had done so much for us through The Lord Jesus Christ and the rapidity with which an attitude of unthankfulness is spreading in the world today an attitude of gratefulness needs to be demonstrated by all the children of The God.
The Philippians demonstrated their gratefulness to The God and to Paul through renewed care for him by a generous gift sent to him in prison at Rome brought by Ehpahfróhdeetohs.
Paul demonstrated his gratefulness by reflecting a gracious attitude in his acknowledgment of that gift and by expressing his joy in the receipt of that gift. His contentment in all circumstances and his acknowledgment of being strengthened by The Lord Jesus Christ to endure all things reflected his gracious attitude. His genuine acclamation of their well-doing expressed gratefulness and encouragement. Paul further expressed gratefulness for their faithful fellowship in The Gospel since the first day he knew them. Such fellowship in The Gospel involves ‘giving and receiving.’ While he received the product of their giving, they received the product of his giving of himself in the work of The Lord as well as The God’s care of material needs. In gratefulness Paul desired fruit to be reckoned to their account with The God.
Paul fully delighted in and was grateful for the sacrificial giving of the Philippians and described it in the same language he used to describe the sacrifice of The Lord Jesus Christ--an aroma of a sweet smelling sacrifice which is well-pleasing to The God. Paul gave assurance that The God of his shall fill every need to the congregation and to those who gave so sacrificially toward the gift sent to support of their missionary and The God’s bondslave. Such supply is according to the measure of The God’s riches in glory because of Christ Jesus.
With such assurance we can confidently give sacrificially to the support of The God’s bondslaves, the missionaries that our local church has sent as our representatives to other places in the world and has undertaken to support. How much we sacrificially give will determine the extent of our gratitude for what The Lord Jesus Christ has done for us! ‘Fellowship in The Gospel’ reflects gratefulness, whether on the part of the donor or on the part of the recipient of the gift. Both demonstrate gratefulness: the donor by giving out of a heart full of gratitude and the recipient by expressing gratitude in a letter of acknowledgment and thanks and by continuing in sacrificial service to The Lord Jesus Christ. How much has the Lord Jesus Christ done for you? How much will you do for Him in gratitude for what He has done for you? Who will demonstrate gratitude for all that He’s done for you by giving sacrificially in order to support The Lord’s missionary bondslaves? Who will consistently manifest an attitude of gratefulness in “these last days” of ingratitude and unthankfulness? Will you? Now consider the practical aspects of the lesson.
1. What attitude in relation to the work of Christ for us and the work of Christ through us is essential for productive Christian living?
2. How was the gratefulness of the Philippians for all Christ had done for them through the ministry of the apostle Paul demonstrated?
3. Why was there a need for the apostle Paul to show gratefulness to the Philippians?
4. Why is there a need for Christians in your local church to demonstrate an attitude of gratefulness?
5. What is the significant factor involved in “Fellowship of The Gospel” and what does it mean?
6. How does the assurance Paul gave to the Philippians encourage sacrificial giving in relation to fellowship in The Gospel?
7. How does ‘Fellowship of The Gospel’ reflect gratefulness?
8. How can you develop this attitude of gratefulness?
What will you do to meet the need for gratefulness to be demonstrated in the missionary program of your local church?
To what extent will you go to develop an attitude of gratefulness in your own heart?
What extent will you go to develop an attitude of gratefulness in your local church?
What will you do now to begin to demonstrate an attitude of gratefulness for all Christ has done for you?
| | understood $singular &plural /the 0no article +masculine ~neuter