We begin today in Philippians 1:7 where Paul writes, "It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, ALL OF YOU SHARE IN GOD'S GRACE WITH ME."
This has been translated, "I hold you in my heart as partakers of God's grace"; or, "Along with me, you have been given a portion of God's grace. God's grace is extended to me, His grace is at work in my life - whatever the circumstances in which I find myself. Whether I am in chains or whether I am out of prison, preaching, defending, confirming the gospel, God's spiritual blessing is on my life."
I find here two important ideas for us to think about . . . let's keep in focus the fact that we are looking into Paul's mind. We are seeing here what should be in the mind and heart of every Christian.
First, we notice that Paul's hope, his confidence is not only in what God has done and is doing in his own life, through his own ministry. He is CONVINCED that God is at work in others' lives too. Paul is interested in that; he is excited about it!
I think this is the most beautiful attitude to understand and to hold. Haven't all of us known, often among married couples, situations in which one seemed more serious about their Christianity than the other, more committed to the cause of Jesus Christ than the other? How easy it seemed for the committed one to feel that what God was doing in their life was much more significant than what was taking place in the life of their mate. How often do we find the attitude, spoken or unspoken, "If only he (or she) were more dedicated, more committed - then God could work in their life as He is working in mine!" Sometimes we see this attitude within the church, in the body of Christ.
Yet, here is the apostle Paul, and what is his attitude? We find it expressed in verse seven. Together, we share God's grace; and what God is doing in my life is no more special than what He is doing in the lives of others.
This reminds me of Romans 12:3: "For by THE GRACE given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."
Secondly, we see here that God's grace is operative in all of our lives, wherever we are, and whatever we are doing. Paul is saying, "God's GRACE is just as much a part of my life when I am shut up in prison as when I am out preaching the gospel." And for you, right now, GOD'S GRACE is operating in your life: whether you are at home caring for your children, or whether you are sick in bed, or whether you are caring for aged parents, or whether you are studying for your doctorate. . . It is not WHAT YOU ARE DOING or WHO YOU ARE that gives you a corner on GOD'S GRACE.
GODS GRACE COMPLETELY SURROUNDS YOUR LIFE, AS WELL AS THE LIVES OF OTHERS, WHEREVER YOU ARE AND WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING, IF YOU BELONG TO HIM. This truth brings great joy.
Are there people in your life that God is calling you to extend His grace to? Might you begin today to PRAISE, THANK and TRUST HIM for all HE IS DOING in their life, no matter how circumstances may appear? Remember, God is at work, even through our prayers, to accomplish His work in the lives of others. What a privilege we have been given!