Do you have a spiritual mentor? Someone who first introduced you to the Good News about Christ or someone who has loved you and consistently cared about your journey of faith. Perhaps you have a mature friend who faithfully challenges you to make an attitude adjustment or helps you in a crisis decision. If you do, then you understand clearly how important this communication would have been to the people in Philippi.
Is there anyone who looks to you as a guide, a counselor or a prayer partner? Someone who counts on your prayers and your words of encouragement? If so, then you will agree that it is impossible to decide which person learns the most or experiences the greatest joy in this kind of relationship.
Obviously, the special friendship that Paul had with the people in Philippi brought him great joy. They loved each other deeply. One of the big reasons for this was their mutual commitment to “defending and confirming the truth of the Gospel”. Paul was greatly encouraged by their faithfulness in spite of many challenges and difficulties. Because of his deep compassion for these people, he continued to pray for them and to keep in touch with them. They, no doubt, listened intently to the words that he wrote to them and then talked about each part of the letter in earnest conversation.
Timothy loved these people, too. He had been with Paul and Silas when they first went to Philippi 10 years before and apparently he was visiting Paul at the time he was writing this letter. Even though Paul was confined to a house, chained to a Roman guard, and awaiting his trail before Nero in Rome, his focus was not on his circumstances but on the ways that he could use his days and energy to bring “glory and praise to God”.
There is a strong sense that while Paul is writing to a group of people, he is at the same time sending a very personal letter to each individual. He, in fact, is writing to you and to me. As you read his prayer (Phil. 1: 9 – 11), try inserting your own name whenever you read the word “you”. As you do so, God will answer your prayer in some wonderful ways. Then watch Him “continue to do His good work in you”.