The familiar bing of an arriving email caught my attention while I wrote at my computer. Usually I try to resist the temptation to check every email but the subject line was too enticing: “You are a blessing.”
Eagerly, I opened it to discover a faraway friend telling me she was praying for my family. Each week, she displays one Christmas card photo in her kitchen table “Blessing Bowl” and prays for that family. She wrote, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3) and then highlighted our efforts to share God’s love with others—our “partnership” in the gospel.
Through my friend’s intentional gesture, the apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians came trickling into my inbox, creating the same joy in my heart I suspect readers received from his first-century thank-you note. It seems Paul made it a habit to speak his gratitude to those who worked alongside him. A similar phrase opens many of his letters: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world” (Romans 1:8).
In the first century, Paul blessed his co-laborers with a thank-you note of prayerfulness. In the twenty-first century, my friend used a Blessing Bowl to bring joy into my day. How might we thank those who serve in the mission of God with us today?
Father, help us to intentionally bless those who serve alongside us.
Who can you thank today?
Paul’s letter to the Romans is generally considered his most intensely theological letter. Yet it opens and closes with great warmth, revealing an unexpected affection. The opening shows this personal touch through gratitude, and the final chapter displays Paul’s care for the Romans in words of greetings—personally expressing his heart for more than twenty-five different people. Included in the list are ministry leaders (Priscilla, Aquila; 16:3), prisoners (Andronicus, Junia; v. 7), and both men and women—all considered fellow workers in the gospel. In the fellowship of the gospel, there is much to be thankful for, much to celebrate, and many co-laborers whom we can encourage with our gratitude.
For more on spiritual service, download the booklet The Heart of Effective Ministry at discoveryseries.org/q0910.