READ : Philippians 4:10-23
Not that I seek the gift. (v. 17)
Each time Paul expresses appreciation for the Philippians’ gift to him, he adds, “not that . . . “ (vv. 11, 17)—as if to say, “Thank you, but I was doing fine.” Is this bad manners?
The ancient world spoke of three kinds of friendships—the pleasant, the useful, and the good. The “good” friendship was the best because it had no strings attached. “Useful” friendships—i.e., those where people used each other—were the most common; even bad people could enter them.
Since both good friendships and useful friendships could involve giving and receiving, Paul emphasized that his friendship with the Philippians was treasured for its own sake and not for the gifts it brought him. Paul did not need those gifts. He had learned to be content.
Such is Paul’s friendship with the Philippians that the joy of receiving their gift was not first of all the gift itself but the evidence it provided of their love for him.
Our relationship with God is also a “good” friendship. We are thankful to God for sunshine, health, and much else, but our friendship is not dependent on them. We exult in the Lord always. We accept his gifts and make them all the more precious because we accept them as signs of his unfathomable love for us, and in this we rejoice.
Father, we adore you, lay our lives before you. Amen.