This Fall I’m studying and teaching through the book of Philippians. It’s not a long book – just 104 verses. You can pretty much read through the whole letter in 10-15 minutes. But don’t let its size fool you. The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, packed a ton of great stuff into this short letter.
My focus this week was on the first eleven verses of Philippians, which is basically the first 10% of what Paul wrote to the Saints at Philippi. Frankly, I found his words… different. Yes, different. Paul took a different approach than we typically take when we have “something we need to talk to someone about.”
Think of the last time you needed to talk to someone about something important: something that was on your heart; something that might be a little hard for them to hear; something that needed to be said. Have you been in that position?
Paul had a number of “somethings” on his mind that he wanted to talk to the Philippian Christians about. Matters like: spiritual growth, selfish ambition, the need for humility, Jesus’ example, the problem of complaining and arguing, getting along with each other, suffering, godly thinking, contentment, and more.
With all of that on Paul’s checklist for this letter, you’d think he would have jumped right in with guns blazing. Let ‘em have it. Gotten right to the point. Isn’t that what we would usually do?
Not Paul. Before he talked about the “something” he needed to talk to them about, he focused on the feelings he had for them. Yes, his feelings! He wanted them to know that he had them “in his heart” (Phil 1:7).
It was Teddy Roosevelt who said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It makes you wonder if President Roosevelt had taken a lesson out of the book of Philippians.
The first 10% of Philippians is Paul saying, “I care about you. I love you. You aren’t just another group of people on my ‘to do’ list.”
In two ways, Paul made sure they knew how much he cared about them before he said anything else.
Paul’s feelings revealed his loving care
Paul was a man with feelings, and he wasn’t afraid to share them. He began his letter by telling them how he felt about them: thankful for them, joyful in knowing they were his partners in the Gospel, confident that God was growing them up in Him, longing to be with them again. He made sure they knew that he cared deeply for them and he missed them.
Paul’s prayers revealed his loving care
When a person prays for you without being asked, it’s a sign they really care about you. Especially when their prayers are more than just a simple “God bless all the saints at Philippi.” Paul cared enough to specifically pray that these Christ-followers would abound in love, discernment, purity, godly works, and in bringing glory and praise to God. Talk about someone that has someone in their heart. Paul did. Every one of those five matters are worthy prayers for those that we care about.
So there you have it. Paul’s opening words. The first 10%.
He showed them he cared before he shared.
If we were to take the same approach, what do you think might happen in your next “I have something to share with you” conversation? Probably a lot of good things. And most likely the person you talk to will be more ready to hear what you have to say, if they first know that you care.
Pay careful attention to the first 10%. It could have a significant impact on your next crucial conversation and on what happens in the days that follow.
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