Which Letter is Yours?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving….

Whenever I read the short book of Philippians, I am struck by the apostle Paul’s gratitude and corresponding joy.  Whether or not you celebrate a particular day of Thanksgiving, take the time this week to read the short book of Philippians—focusing on Paul’s thankful attitude and the joy that flows from this attitude. Now, think about the circumstances he faced as he wrote, especially his imprisonment.

If Paul had not been a grateful person, I imagine his letter would have sounded more like this:

Chapter 1  It’s me, Paul.

So…I guess there’s not much to say…not much hope.  While you are enjoying your freedom, here I sit chained to a prison guard. This stinks… and there is nothing I can accomplish from here.

Not only can I do nothing to reach out to and share with people, but there are lots of people out there preaching wrong things, undoing the good I’ve tried to do.  It irks me, and I am totally depressed about this.

Chapter 2    Nobody really cares about me…everyone is just thinking about themselves.  Well, except maybe Timothy and now he’ll likely go to you and then you will “need” him.  Sheez…what else do you want?  Of course, I do have Epaphroditus, my one fellow worker and friend.  You might as well take him too while you’re at it.  Besides, while here trying to help me out he went and got sick on me. It’s just one lousy thing after another.

Chapter 3  You know I had a lot going on before all this.  I was somebody significant…but I’ve really lost everything now. God must hate me.  I’ve tried to give everything…and look where it’s gotten me. There’s really not much more I could possibly do ..it’s over …and besides–look where sacrifice has gotten me anyway.  In jail.  Just sitting here–shackled.

Chapter 4  And…if all this is not enough, my “friends” Euodia and Syntyche can’t even get along.  For cryin’ out loud…. All the whining.  Will someone tell them to shut it? Can’t anybody get along anymore? Problems everywhere.  And I’m tired, hungry and poor to boot.  I’d ask for help, but you’d probably just respond like everybody else has.  When I asked before, almost no one wanted to help.  Well, gotta go…not feeling so good.  And the more I remember all this bad stuff the worse I feel.   Maybe I’ll get lucky and die. Meanwhile, I sit here chained to a stinkin’ guard..

Now ask youself….what would your letter sound like?  This is a convicting and challenging question for me.  Would it be as you read the book of Philippians in your Bible?…Or would it be written more like the “rewrite” above?  The difference between the two lies in our attitude of gratitude—or lack thereof.  May you have a week (and life)  filled with gratitude and the overflowing joy that follows.  Happy Thanksgiving.IMG_2923

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  1. Bonnye Stare

    Thanks Jeanie,

    Thinking about how blessed we are and going to Mema’s house for dinner. Hope you all have a wonderful day filled with family and thanks.

    • jeanieshaw

      Yes, we are very blessed. Great to hear from you.

  2. lucychristy73

    Thanks jeanie
    this one was so convicting.i need to really check my heart on gratitude and focus on being grateful so that i can have a joy filled life.
    Love Lucy

    • jeanieshaw

      I do to. Thanks for your heart. Love, Jeanie

  3. Elizabeth Thompson

    Oh my goodness, this is SO great, Jeanie. Totally busted. I can be so negative . . . but I WANT to be like the real Philippians letter! 😀

  4. Chris Carter (@themomcafe)

    Jeanie, I just LOVE this. LOVE. What a creative and profound way to show how our attitude always affects our perspective! I was cracking up at this ‘new Paul’… I think I’m guilty of writing a letter much like that at times. Sharing this for all to be inspired by your purposeful post!

    • jeanieshaw

      Thanks so much Chris. Your words are very encouraging. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I just read your post today. It’s powerful, insightful. Thank you.

  5. aladyinfrance

    This made me laugh so hard. Thank you Jeanie. 🙂 (And yes, I “got” it!) 😉

    • jeanieshaw

      :-). Love to you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving.


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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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