Giving is never a one way street. There is always mutual benefit.
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare… 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
Throughout the entire letter to the Philippians, Paul is overwhelmed with concern for others as well as longing to receive encouragement from his friends. Paul cares so much about the longings within each of his friends and his heart hurts over the distress Epaphroditus’ illness has caused the entire community. He also cares so much about the Philippians and is so deeply concerned for their welfare that he only wants to send someone who is equally concerned. From the beginning of his letter, Paul emphasizes this concern when he says outright, “it is right for me to feel this way about you all” (Philippians 1:7).
Relationships are central for Paul and the key to fulfilling his joy. Sitting in house arrest, he deeply longs for connection again because he knows his re-connection will bring him joy. He states one main reason for writing this letter, “that I, too, may be cheered by news of you” and earlier he asked them to, “complete joy” (Philippians 2:2). Paul seems very aware that his concern for others actually works for his benefit. There is a mutual good exchanged in the relationships he’s describing. Giving is never a one way street. There is always mutual benefit.
We see relationships as a mutual exchange as well, but often times we adopt an “I owe you” mentality. If you do something good for me, I “should” repay you by doing something of equal or greater good. Paul is not saying the Philippians owe him anything, but he is saying that they have the ability to offer him joy. They can also relieve some of his anxiety (Philippians 2:28) and make him proud (Philippians 2:16). So, following in Paul’s footsteps, it is good for us to be concerned for and invested in relationships – not that we’ll be repaid – but that by participating in the relationship, mutual joy can be fostered as we love one another. Ask the Lord to reveal one person you’ve influenced recently and praise God for the joy that particular relationship has brought you.
Love one another with brotherly affection.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
– Romans 12:10
By Yvonne Biel