“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3–8 ESV)
Paul opens this letter with thankfulness and joy – an unusual response for a man who had suffered so much and was currently writing them from jail in Rome. This is no superficial joy, his joy is rooted in their partnership with him in the gospel – they had received the grace of God personally and were also faithful supporters of Paul & the proclamation of the gospel. He views both imprisonment and preaching the Gospel as God’s grace; it is interesting that a man who has been so persecuted for the faith and proclamation of the Gospel views imprisonment & preaching the Gospel as grace – if only we could see grace in our hardships. Difficulties have a way of pushing us to dependance which is the ultimate act of grace. Paul encourages them that this was God’s work that HE BEGAN in them and that HE WOULD COMPLETE (1:6). All authentic spiritual growth and transformation finds its firm foundation on what God has done, what God is doing and what God promises to do; our focus should be on the faithfulness of God, not on our own faithfulness. The good, sovereign, holy God that saved them would sustain them and would keep them to the end! (Philippians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:2–11; 2 Pet. 3:10–13; Rev. 20:11–21:8). The same is true of us – He who began the work is always faithful to complete it.