“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you”
“I thank my God”
Of the letters that Paul wrote, five were written from prison. It is astonishing to think of how much of Paul’s writing ministry took place in jail. He wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and 2 Timothy while incarcerated. Paul would not let himself give way to self-pity. As a result we have this jubilant letter of joy.
This verse begins the body of the letter; verses 1 and 2 were the salutation. This paragraph (Paul’s prayer for the saints) runs from verse 3 to 11.
Paul began his prayer with thanksgiving. Whenever a group was worthy of his thanks, he began this way. There was only one group of churches for which Paul did not thank God–the Galatians. He just could not bring himself to thank God for them because of their doctrinal error.
“upon every remembrance of you”
“Every time I remember you, every time I think of you, I thank God.” Paul’s capacity for thanks was vast. Paul and the Philippians were separated by hundreds of miles and for a number of years, yet his faculty for thanking God for them remained. The Philippians must have been a wonderful church with a great testimony to impress Paul so. It would be a wonderful thing for other people to say of us, “I thank God for that person. I thank God that I met him. What a blessing she has been to me.”
However, many of us have a testimony whereby people say, “I don’t know what I did to have that person come across my path! I thank God that I can forget that person!” Every believer is a blessing or a curse, a wing or a weight, an asset or a liability. We either help people in their Christian life or hinder them.
Remembering brought no regrets for Paul; he had only blessed memories. Do you have a capacity to give thanks? Do you thank God for your church? Do you thank God for individuals in your church?
“Upon” does not mean “at.” Paul did not thank God at every remembrance of the Philippians. It means “on the basis of.” That is, the Philippians formed the basis for Paul’s thanksgiving.
There were unpleasant memories in Philippi if Paul cared to dwell on them–the rage of the masters of the girl set free from demons and the conduct of the city officials and populace toward Paul. Currently two women were locked in a bitter battle (4:2). Paul chose not to remember the petty irritations. Gratitude springs out of what we choose to think about. A typical fault of the believer is to fail to thank God for the common courtesies and favors of life.
“every remembrance of you”
The Greek indicates that Paul thanked God for his entire connection with them.
It is important to recognize our current blessings are from God.
It is important to recognize our current blessings are from God. That recognition is a capacity or faculty for appreciation of what God has brought into our lives.
The word “thank” is in the present tense in the Greek and indicates a constant thankfulness. Do we intentionally and on a daily basis develop our capacity for appreciation for what God is doing in our lives?