THE SECURE MIND or WORRY ROBS JOY
Verse 9 really goes with the thought of verse 8 and caps off the list of things we re to be thinking of. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, knows hat we need to have examples of what to do. So he gave us verse 8 that tells us what things to think about. And if we follow that advice "the peace of God will be on us.
Verse 10 Paul is telling this church that he appreciates their care of him as a missionary. They have been taking care of him and praying for him. They had another gift for him because they had been very careful and saved another gift of money for him. It was a new idea, this being a missionary! They believed in what he was doing and wanted so badly to help him. But they didn't have FedEx or UPS so the gift they had saved up for him took a long time to coordinate getting to him.
He is careful to point out that he is thanking them, not because he has been lacking in anything, but because he gets it all of the time! He has learned . . . LEARNED. . . in whatsoever state he is in to be content. There have actually been times in my life where God was teaching me to be content somewhere I did not want to be...like in an actual state I didn't like! When we were newlyweds and lived in Pensacola, Florida my husband worked full time and went to school full time. I sat at home not knowing anyone in town, not having a car to go anywhere, and not knowing even one of my neighbors. I was so lonely. I learned to be content through that. Later, when we moved to West Virginia and lived my in-law's for a few months I was so out of place. I didn't feel like I belonged there and it was never God's plan to have two women under one roof like that. I wanted to go "home." But I also learned to love my husband in a different way and depend on him in many ways I had never imagined were possible in our fairy tale.
Verse 12 tells us that Paul knew how to be happy when he was having a feast or having a famine. He could be comfortable in a crowd of wealthy people just the same as he could be comfortable with a beggar on the street. We need to be able to relate to ALL people and to feel comfortable talking about the Lord to anyone we meet. And we must do it through Christ Who strengthens us. I cannot do alot of the things that are "expected" of me very well. But when I ask Christ to be my strength and when I follow His lead I can accomplish ANYthing!
The next few verses Paul is describing to them that he was the very first "missionary" and what that new idea meant for them. And this little church was the only church that sent him "support."
Verse 17 tells us to be clear of one thing . . . Paul is not writing about money because he wants any more, but because he wants to teach them the right way to operate so they can receive God's wonderful blessings. God is keeping a record in Heaven of things we do for His honor and glory. When we help a missionary who lives far away in a place we do not understand, we are actually helping God spread the message. And God makes a little "deposit" into our account of things not wasted in Heaven.
Epaphraditus was a helper to Paul. Many believe he was the one who actually wrote this letter on behalf of Paul as a scribe. He traveled to Paul and brought things from this church. Remember they had no post office in those days! Paul doesn't tell us what he brought or how much it was worth or what percent of each person's wealth he was receiving. He wanted them to know that whatever it was, it was a sweet smell to God's nose that they gave to him. You know how a sweet smell can just change the feeling of a room or an occasion? Our prayers and gifts to God smell sweet to Him. What I do for Christ is noticed in Heaven with a wonderful smell better than any candle or potpourri on earth!
Then Paul wraps up this letter with some personal messages. He tells them of Christians in the household of Caeasar, the king who persecuted him so much! He sends greetings and messages back and forth . . . it is a very personal and "private" part of this letter, yet God includes it for us. It is heartwarming and shows us a level of personal relationships that is important throughout the Bible. Our relationships with God and with each other are so very important to Him!
And then he closes. I wish for you the same thing he wised for these people . . . that the matchless grace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with all of them. This is my wish for you as well. I pray that you learn to have the real joy Christ has made available for you.