In preparing the sermon I wrote about earlier today I turned Paul’s thank you letter in Philippians 4 to a thank you letter from a grandson to his grandmother. Although the English text gives us lots of “poster perfect” Bible verses for our inspirational calendars, when you read it like the thank you letter it is, you might conclude that Paul is lousy at writing thank you letters. Below is my creative paraphrase. Below that is the actual NIV Translation.
I am writing about the Superman action figure you gave me for Christmas. I rejoice that at last you have shown that you care about me! I mean, I know you always care but you haven’t had opportunity to show it lately.
Not that I needed the superman action figure. In fact I was doing just fine without it. You know me, I can turn any old trinket into a toy. I have learned to have fun with brand new toys and old paper dolls that you probably played with when you were my age. In fact I was perfectly happy without the toy.
Nevertheless, it was good for you to give. After all the giver is more blessed than the receiver. So you did yourself a favor by giving it to me. After all, you know last Christmas my other grandparents did not give me barely anything, just some clothes that I outgrew in 6 months. But you alone are a great giver who has always given wonderful gifts to me. But don’t misunderstand me, I don’t need any more toys because I have enough all ready but all I want is for you to have the blessing of giving so keep the toys coming.
But I wanted you to know I did indeed receive the Superman and found it to be quite fun and it is a wonderful sign of our great relationship. I trust that God will give you everything you need.
With much love,
Your Grandson Paul
And now the NIV:
10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.