“…for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” (Philippians 1:19)
What is the secret to sustaining one’s spiritual strength in order to keep on keepin’ on when things get tough? The Apostle Paul describes it here in his letter to the church in Philippi.
The Greek word help is an interesting word with a fascinating history. It’s a compound word epichorego and literally means “on behalf of the choir.” (epi = for, on behalf of; chorego = choir, choreography). “On behalf of the choir?” Weird, huh? Well, there’s a story behind it.
Thousands of years ago in classical Greece, a huge choir and drama troupe had created and rehearsed for an important theatrical performance. After tons of planning, practice, and expense, the company was ready to take the show on the road…but they ran out of money.
They’d dedicated everything – time, energy, and emotion. They were committed to succeed, but the show was a flop even before it began.
Do you ever feel that way? Have you given yourself to something so completely that you feel like you’ve literally “given your all?” You’ve been so deeply committed to something, that in the end, you feel you don’t have enough strength to finish.
I think it’s a great analogy of our spiritual life sometimes. We seem to have no more to give. We begin to wane physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even good people with good intentions and strong desires eventually come to one of these dead ends. We “grow weary in well doing… (see Gal. 6:9).”
That’s what happened with this choir; they were at a dead end. No funds meant no show. All the practice and energy had been wasted. It was the end of their dream…or so it seemed. Then, out of nowhere, a wealthy man heard about their predicament and stepped into their lives. He heard about the show they planned, all their practice and commitment, and he made a sizeable donation, epichorego, “on behalf of the choir.”
In fact, the amount was much more than they needed – more than they could spend. And that’s why Paul chose this word: Paul was at a dead end. He was spent. He was in chains. He had nothing else to give. But the Philippians prayed for him…and more importantly, Jesus stepped into his life and his prison cell and made an overwhelming contribution of the Holy Spirit’s grace and power.
The same Spirit abundantly given to Paul in his challenge is available to you and me! All we need to do is ask. And that’s preaching to the choir!
Let’s talk more on Sunday as we continue our sermon series, “Parakletos.”