In the spirit of Thanksgiving….
Whenever I read the short book of Philippians, I am struck by the apostle Paul’s gratitude and corresponding joy. Whether or not you celebrate a particular day of Thanksgiving, take the time this week to read the short book of Philippians—focusing on Paul’s thankful attitude and the joy that flows from this attitude. Now, think about the circumstances he faced as he wrote, especially his imprisonment.
If Paul had not been a grateful person, I imagine his letter would have sounded more like this:
Chapter 1 It’s me, Paul.
So…I guess there’s not much to say…not much hope. While you are enjoying your freedom, here I sit chained to a prison guard. This stinks… and there is nothing I can accomplish from here.
Not only can I do nothing to reach out to and share with people, but there are lots of people out there preaching wrong things, undoing the good I’ve tried to do. It irks me, and I am totally depressed about this.
Chapter 2 Nobody really cares about me…everyone is just thinking about themselves. Well, except maybe Timothy and now he’ll likely go to you and then you will “need” him. Sheez…what else do you want? Of course, I do have Epaphroditus, my one fellow worker and friend. You might as well take him too while you’re at it. Besides, while here trying to help me out he went and got sick on me. It’s just one lousy thing after another.
Chapter 3 You know I had a lot going on before all this. I was somebody significant…but I’ve really lost everything now. God must hate me. I’ve tried to give everything…and look where it’s gotten me. There’s really not much more I could possibly do ..it’s over …and besides–look where sacrifice has gotten me anyway. In jail. Just sitting here–shackled.
Chapter 4 And…if all this is not enough, my “friends” Euodia and Syntyche can’t even get along. For cryin’ out loud…. All the whining. Will someone tell them to shut it? Can’t anybody get along anymore? Problems everywhere. And I’m tired, hungry and poor to boot. I’d ask for help, but you’d probably just respond like everybody else has. When I asked before, almost no one wanted to help. Well, gotta go…not feeling so good. And the more I remember all this bad stuff the worse I feel. Maybe I’ll get lucky and die. Meanwhile, I sit here chained to a stinkin’ guard..
Now ask youself….what would your letter sound like? This is a convicting and challenging question for me. Would it be as you read the book of Philippians in your Bible?…Or would it be written more like the “rewrite” above? The difference between the two lies in our attitude of gratitude—or lack thereof. May you have a week (and life) filled with gratitude and the overflowing joy that follows. Happy Thanksgiving.