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Relational Encouragement

Philippians 2:19
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. (NIVUK)

One of the great blessings of knowing Jesus Christ is that we are never alone (2 Timothy 4:16-18).  Even though we may be posted away from home without like-minded company or Christian fellowship, the Lord is with us (Joshua 1:9).  But it was never His plan for us to be permanently isolated.  When we come to Jesus, we come into His family: we have brothers and sisters, role models and those who take their example from us.  The church is not a building but a vast international company of people who honour Jesus and love each other.  And almost wherever you go, you will find family in God (Hebrews 2:11-13).

It was natural for Paul to want news of the church in Philippi.  They were his family – through Him many had come to faith in Jesus (1 Corinthians 4:15).  In those days, without internet, phone or even a postal service, most written messages were couriered.  Better still, the courier went as a representative; and that was to be Timothy's role while Paul was detained under house arrest.  Some have suggested that Paul's faith was weak in needing reassurance as to how the Philippian church was doing.  No!  Every good parent is concerned about their children (Philippians 1:8).  If our 'faith' in God's care of other people becomes so professional that we cease to care deeply and personally, we are in the wrong.

But Paul was not agitated.  He did not panic, sleeplessly anxious until he received news.  He had put the matter into God's hands.  It seems that he had prayed for the opportunity to send Timothy, but, as yet, the time was not quite right.  Paul hoped that the way might be open soon, but he was content for the final decision to be the Lord's.  Much of Israel’s story in the Old Testament was one of waiting.  Paul understood that a journey with God is in His time and that we need to be patient as we trust His promises, as well as expectant for His answer.  Paul wrote, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4).

How wise we would be to follow Paul's example: trusting yet concerned, caring but waiting, praying but not panicking.  Like Paul, we should prize the presence of God above all else, but never abandon our commitment to others (Philippians 1:19-26).   Preserving these balances is an essential part of healthy Christian living; but it may need a bit of practice to change the old patterns of behaviour.  Isaiah 40:27-31 puts it like this: “Why do you complain, Jacob?  Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’?  Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Ask the Lord to help you to wait for His answer in His time. 

Dear Heavenly Father. Thank You for the great joy of knowing You through the salvation of Jesus Christ. Please forgive me when I have ignored my spiritual family. Please help me always to enjoy my fellowship with You and them. Help me to invest in relating with my brothers and sisters in Christ as a priority, caring for them and serving them wherever possible; and trusting You to open doors of relationship in Your will and time. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams