“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.” (Philippians 1:7, ESV)
Paul describes himself and the Philippians as “partakers in grace.” As we will see later in the Book of Philippians, humility is a key to joy.
But before we get there, Paul relates an essential element of humility. That is a realization of our utter dependence upon God. We all need the grace of God. We cannot live without it. It is only by God’s grace that we are here and that we have hope.
As we think about partaking in grace, here are some thoughts:
- God’s grace is experienced in community. Our culture values independence rather than dependence. As a result we become isolated from each other. But God’s calls us to community. It is in community that we experience communion. It is through community that we are able to make a greater contribution to the kingdom. Consider that the Greek word for church is “Gathering.” If you feel lacking in God’s grace consider your participation in community.
- God’s grace given to others will encourage us. This may be the biggest argument for our need for community. When we hear the stories and testimonies of how others experience the grace of God, it will encourage us and inspire us. When we see the generous help God provides others, it can build our faith to know that God will give us the same help. At the same time, it is important for us to share our testimonies and stories for others to hear.
- There is an unlimited supply of grace. God’s grace does not run out. There is more than enough to go around. Too often we live with a scarcity mindset. This mindset leaves us with the idea that for someone to win, another must lose. But that is not the way it is with God’s grace. The more we give grace and share grace, the more abundant it becomes.
- Grace is found in difficult circumstances. Paul talks about his imprisonment. He was in desperate circumstances. But this is exactly the place where the grace of God becomes more real. Too often, it is not until we hit rock bottom that we realize just how much we need God’s grace and allow God’s grace to fill us.
- God’s grace empowers us to fulfill God’s purpose. Paul’s tirelessly worked to defend and confirm the gospel. It was his calling from God. But fulfilling this work was not about Paul’s ability. Rather it was about God’s ability to work through Paul. Paul accomplished what Paul accomplished only by the grace of God.
Consider the ways you experience God’s grace. Consider the ways that you partake in God’s grace with others. Consider ways in which you offer God’s grace to others.