A Story of Partners
Oral Roberts asked a group of ministers what the theme of Philippians was and almost all answered, “Joy.” Oral responded, “No, the theme is partnership.”
Philippi was the only area Paul had a specific word from God to go to. In the nighttime, Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia calling him to “come over” (Acts 16:9). Although Paul had little response to the gospel in Philippi (two families and one demon possessed girl saved), he became lifelong partners with the people in the church.
In Corinth, Paul ran out of money and all of his friends in ministry had been left behind at previous cities where he had ministered. Alone, he was forced to make tents to continue preaching and supply for his daily needs. The saints at Philippi sensed Paul’s dilemma and sent him a large offering during their own financial distress. It was such a moving experience Paul mentioned it on three separate occasions! Paul told the Philippians, “…no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only” (Philippians 4:15). Not everyone who prays for a ministry or gives to it is a true partner. Partners are few in the overall scheme of things, but they can make any good ministry a great success. Oh, the power of partners, especially in the work of the Lord!
Five times in Philippians, the Greek word koinonia is used. Usually translated fellowship, it is better translated as partnership. There are five ways the Philippians partnered with Paul and you can partner with a ministry also:
1. In the Gospel
Philippians 1:5 “For your fellowship (partnership) in the gospel from the first day until now…”
The first reason anyone should become a spiritual partner with a minister is to fulfill and assist in the great commission, the winning and discipling of souls. Paul mentions this first because it is the foundation of the partnership he had with the Philippians. The other four ways the Philippians partnered with Paul were built on this one.
2. In Grace
Philippians 1:7 “…both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers (partners) with me of grace.”
Whether in soul winning, making disciples or any response and rewards we see in our ministry, the glory goes to God. Any understanding of grace we have puts less emphasis on ourselves and gives more credit to the Lord. Our gospel information, ability to speak, conviction to the sinner, and the new birth itself is a result of God’s grace. We can claim no credit in any of the process’ by which a sinner becomes a saint or a convert becomes a disciple.
3. The Holy Spirit
Philippians 2:1 “…if there is any fellowship (partnership) of the Spirit”
All of God’s power comes to us through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God does not do or say anything on His own but does and speaks what He sees from the Father. We have no partnership with each other without first having a partnership with the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit who links us with the Father and the Lord Jesus, making us partners with them, also links each of us together in the Body of Christ as partners.
4. In Affliction
Philippians 4:14 “Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate (become partners) with my affliction.”
This is the area the Philippians put to the test and really became a blessing to Paul. Affliction is not always persecution, but partners stick with each other in good times and bad. Many people in church are supportive when the good times are rolling, but leave when another church becomes popular or the economy is bad. They’re with you when everything is great, but if the church receives bad press or a friend complains about the way they were treated by the church staff, they leave. A true church member remains despite the circumstances or situations of life.
5. In Giving
Philippians 4:15 “…no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.”
The last way Paul mentions partnership is in the giving of finances. When the four other elements of partnership are in place, financial giving is a natural response. So many times you only hear about money and there is no reason given for commitment. As partners, whether circumstances are good or bad, we give for the gospel, the grace of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit. The desire to give is the immediate choice. This is partnership that produces results.