Partakers of Grace (Part 1)
While in prison, Paul wrote a letter to a group of Christians in the city of Philippi, whom he called “partakers with me of grace”. Both Paul and the Philippian Christians had received grace (that is, extravagant and undeserved kindness) from God, and their lives showed it. Consider some evidences of grace from Paul’s life.
Evidence of Grace #1: Paul gives God glory for his accomplishments.
Paul begins his letter by saying, “I thank God in all my remembrance of you” (3). Paul had done many amazing things during his visit to Philippi (which you can read about in Acts 16): he had converted a wealthy woman named Lydia almost immediately upon entering the city; he had cast out a demon from a young slave girl and freed her from both economic and demonic bondage; and he had won a rough prison manager and his entire household to Christ. Not only that, but by the time he left the city, he had planted a healthy, vibrant church full of people newly devoted to Jesus. Paul could easily have taken the credit for all of these accomplishments, but he didn’t. He gives God all of the glory for the work that has taken place in Philippi when he begins his letter, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” This is an evidence of God’s grace; this is a sign that Paul has been transformed by God’s kindness and made into a new person.
Evidence of Grace #2: Paul is full of joy.
Humanly speaking, Paul really has no reason to be joyful. He is in prison (1:7), and his opponents have been going out of their way to make things worse for him while he’s there (1:15-17). The messenger that the Philippians sent to him became deathly ill upon reaching Paul, and even though he would surely have loved to keep the man around for encouragement and companionship, Paul sent him back to the Philippians (once he was well enough to travel) just so the church wouldn’t worry about him anymore. Here is arguably God’s greatest Apostle, one of the most effective evangelists and preachers the world has ever known, locked up in prison and unable to visit his beloved congregations or take the gospel of Jesus into new places. And yet, he is joyful. Why? Because his heart has been transformed by the grace of God, and the Spirit within him is producing the fruit of indestructible joy (Gal. 5:22).