Paul's Gratitude for Good Men
Philippians 1:3-5
I thank my God on every remembrance of you,…

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. There are two things noteworthy here at the outset.

1. A minister's hearty recognition of the moral worth of his people. "I thank my God upon every remembrance." This implies on the writer's part a very high appreciation of the spiritual excellence of those to whom he wrote. The recognition of worth in others is the indication of a generous nature, an incumbent obligation, and in truth is a rare virtue. So selfish is human nature that the majority of mankind not only ignore the virtues of others, but eagerly mark and magnify their imperfections. It is said that Enoch had this testimony, that "he pleased God," and we, like our Maker, should readily bear testimony to worth wherever it appears.

2. A minister's lively vigilance over the interests of his people. "Upon every remembrance," and "in every prayer," "for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now." He watched over them, not with the eye of curiosity or censorship, anxious to discover and expose their defects, but with the eye of tender love, yearning, as it were, for the sight of moral beauty, and heartily thankful whenever it appeared. There are two things connected with Paul's gratitude as here disclosed, very remarkable and worthy of imitation.

I. It was gratitude to men EXPRESSED IN PRAYER TO ALMIGHTY GOD. It is common to express our gratitude for services to others by florid utterances or kindly offices, but somewhat rare to give it voice in prayer to Almighty God. "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy" or, as it would be better rendered, "I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you at all times in every prayer of mine for you all." Mark:

1. The fervor of the prayer. What intense earnestness breathes through this utterance! the man's soul seems aglow with devout, philanthropic zeal.

2. The universality of the prayer. "For you all." A similar expression Paul uses in relation to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:2): "We give thanks to God always for you all." There is not one of you for whom we - that is, Paul and Timotheus - do not give thanks. Now, what better way is there to show gratitude to men than by interceding for them all with the common Father? There is no way more practicable. We may be too poor or too weak to return their favors, but none are too poor or weak to pray. There is no way more effective. If the all-merciful Father confer on them his favor they will have more than worlds can bestow.

II. It was gratitude to men on ACCOUNT OF CONTRIBUTION'S TO THE COMMON GOOD. "For your fellowship in the gospel," or towards the gospel. Dr. Samuel Davidson renders it, "For your fellowship in respect of the gospel." What is meant is, I presume, for your fellow-working or your working with us in the fellowship of the gospel. Some suppose that the special reference is here to the contribution that they made towards his temporal needs as referred to in Philippians 4:15, "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no Church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only." But if he refers to this specially, the high probability is that he also refers to their co-operation with him in the general service of the gospel. The apostle felt that, whatever services they rendered him, they were rendered, not for his own sake, but for the sake of the grand cause in which they were mutually interested. As a private disciple it mattered little or nothing to him whether he fared well or ill, died of starvation or martyrdom; but inasmuch as he was entrusted with the gospel he felt the continuation of his existence of some moment to the common good. "Nevertheless," he says, "to abide in the flesh is more needful for you; and having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith" (vers. 24, 25). His gratitude, then, was not on account of any favor they had shown to him as an individual saint, for personal comforts, but to him as a public man laboring for the common good. What a lofty gratitude is this: so unselfish, so sublimely generous! When will the time come when men shall be thankful to each other, not merely for personal benefits, but for the services they rendered to the general weal? Every man who helps on the cause of truth, Christly virtue, and human happiness in the world, whether he belongs to our nation, our Church, or not, deserves our gratitude. In truth, the best way for us to serve ourselves as individuals is to serve the race by diffusing that system of moral and remedial truth which alone can crush the demon ills and create the Divine beatitudes of the race. Never can we be sufficiently thankful to Heaven for the mere existence of good men in this world of ours. They are the "salt of the earth," counteracting that corruption in which all impenitent souls find their hell. They are the ozone in the moral atmosphere of life. They are the highest revelation of God on this earth and the highest exemplification of duty. Like stars, they reveal the infinite above us, and throw light upon our path below. - D.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

WEB: I thank my God whenever I remember you,

My God
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