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It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.


Philippians 1:7,8


Ever been in the place when you knew exactly what to do? It may not have been whispered to you while you sat on your grandmother’s lap. You didn’t read a note you got from someone you trusted with all your heart. But you still knew just what to do.


It’s like my morning routine. The way I’m made, I need very little sleep. I’m always up before Mary Ann. So, I quietly slip out of bed, let the dog out to do her thing, and then quietly check my email. When she wakes up, I ask her how she wants her morning tea. Returning a few minutes later, I put the tea next to her on the nightstand.


Now, no one told me to do this. I never got a note explaining that this was what I was supposed to do. There was no email or social media post telling me to do this. There was no DIY video on how and why to bring tea to your spouse. I never heard a sermon with bringing tea as part of the instruction or application. I never saw it done in the house I grew up in.


Yes, I could point to all sorts of verses in the Bible that I’m supposed to love my wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her[1]. There are numerous inspiring stories throughout the scriptures and history of husband’s great love for their wives. And all that’s great. But there’s nothing that says I should bring tea to Mary Ann in the morning.


You see, I just knew that this was the right thing to do. There was no doubt in my heart that this is what I was supposed to do. I don’t need the internet or an app my phone to gently prompt me, or hit me upside the head with a frying pan, reminding me what to do. So, why do I get her tea?


  • I do it because of everything we’ve been through together.

  • I do it because of all the things we’ve done together.

  • I do it because of all the years we’ve been together.

  • I do it because I love her.


And this is exactly where we find Paul and his relationship with the Philippians. They’ve been through thick and thin together. They have a long history of being together, sharing the good news of God’s kindness. For a long time, they’ve worked together, prayed together, suffered together, rejoiced together.


And now, he’s thinking back on those good times because life has dealt him a fistful of bad cards, and there’s no way to win. It’s guaranteed that he’s going to lose. He’s hurting. He’s alone. He’s been arrested. He’s chained to guards day and night[2]. He’s in prison[3]. And his guaranteed future is execution at the hands of the Romans[4]. So, faced with these facts, what does Paul do? I’ll tell you what he didn’t do.


  • He didn’t throw a pity party for himself and everyone around him.

  • He didn’t stick out his lower lip and pout.

  • He didn’t yell and scream at everyone.

  • He didn’t blame God or the people around him.

  • He didn’t post pictures or videos to get sympathy or “likes.”


He did the thing that we’re supposed to do. He trusted in God and reached out to the people closest to him. The Philippians were not just on Paul’s team, they had worked with him in his working for the King of Kings.


He purposefully brought up the things that they did together and continually thought about those things. He knew that remembering didn’t just happen. You have to take the time and make the effort to remember. In a very practical way, he directed his mind and replayed his memories about the Philippians.


But he didn’t just do it once and then move on. Oh no. He kept it up. He put his finger on the replay button of his mind and kept replaying those memories. Over and over he thought about those people that he loved, and they loved him back. They had nothing but his good in hearts. In their words. In their actions.


So, who do you have in your life like that? Who can you turn to at any time for a heavy dose of encouragement? What memories do you have ready in your head, waiting for the next downturn? The next discouragement? And why do you have them at the ready? Because in this life, trouble, discouragement, pain, and even suffering are coming like a freight train. You need to be prepared to replay them over and over when no one’s around. When the circumstances of life knock you down and keep kicking you?


If you can’t immediately think of at least three people like this, then you have some work to do. You can’t sit at home and wait for people like this to fall out of the sky. You have to get involved with people, building deep friendships and memories that will encourage you when no one’s watching. No matter what, they will be with you.


Noodling Questions


  • What are three things that you’re ready, willing, and able to do?

  • What are two things that are really, really, really tough for you to do?

  • How did you decide which list these things went on?

[1] Ephesians 5:25

[2] 2 Timothy 1:16, 2:9

[3] Philippians 1:13

[4] 2 Timothy 4: 6


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