The Bible says in Philippians 4:11-12, Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Paul had just expressed gratitude and thankfulness to the Christians at Philippi for having contributed to his material needs. From a human standpoint one could say that Paul was in need of certain material things, being in prison and having been forsaken of so many.
But Paul wanted to make it clear that he was not destitute. He knew that he was not forsaken by the One who takes care of us all. In regards to our material needs God has promised to provide for His children. David wrote in the Psalms, I was young and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread. Have you ever heard anyone give this testimony: I trusted in God and he permitted me to go destitute. He forsook me. Such a thing just does not happen. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto thee.
Life has its ups and downs. This includes material things as well as spiritual things. There are times when we will have an abundance, and then there are other times when we will have a scarcity. Joseph taught this principle to Pharoah and thereby rose in power in Egypt. If you have an abundance, some of it should be used for saving and investing, before the days of scarcity come. The scarcity that Paul knew in the will of God included hunger. Thats what he said in Philippians 4:12. But Paul knew that some things are more important than material things. Learning spiritual lessons is more important than always having material abundance. Because Paul had learned to be hungry and to do without, he learned a valuable lesson. Paul learned to be content no matter what was his circumstances or condition. He said, I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Godliness with contentment is great gain. Some people have such great desires for material things that they are never content no matter how much they gain. What a great God we have. He teaches us to be content no matter what is our condition.
In Philippians 4:13 the Bible says, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. In the context Paul is talking about His specific circumstances at that time, being in prison and suffering hunger and other things as a result of a lack of material supply. In this verse Paul gives us the reason that he could be content even with his humanly miserable circumstances. The reason that he gave is a Bible verse that has echoed through the ages and been a source of inspiration and encouragement for countless believers: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
This Bible verse is a reminder of things that Jesus Himself taught us. Jesus spoke to the disciples, and speaking of His own great deeds, He said to them, Greater things than these shall you do. Of course, many times Jesus spoke of the great victories that faith could accomplish. Jesus said that if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove hence, and be cast into the midst of the sea.
You can do whatever God gives you to do. This verse says all things. There is no exception. There is no circumstance that you could possibly encounter in life that does not apply to the promise of this Bible verse. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Of course, this verse does not mean that you can do anything of your own choosing, but it does mean that whatever comes your way in the will of God, God will give you the strength and the enabling to accomplish it. The emphasis of this verse is on the great strength that will result in the one who believes and trusts. Literally the verse means, I can have over-powering strength in the face of all things through the one who enables and empowers me.
The question should never be, How challenging is this task, nor how difficult is it, nor how many enemies will there be? The question is always, Is this the will of God? Whatever comes your way, you can handle it and conquer it and overcome it because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. If you are a Christian, there is one word that you can take out of your vocabulary: cannot. There is no such thing as cannot for a Christian. We serve a can-do God, who has given us great and precious promises, and this one in Philippians 4:13 is one of the great ones. Memorize this verse, think about it, and apply it to every circumstance in your life.
Of course, never forget the source of the strength that is promised to you. Philippians 4:13 says, through Christ. We will be weak and failing when we rely upon ourselves, just like Peter who sank into the water the moment he took his eyes off Christ; and just like Samson who lost his strength the moment his hair was cut off. Samsons hair being cut off was symbolic of a believer being cut away from Christ because of not consciously trusting in Him. What a wonderful God we serve! He has marvelously provided for the situations we will face. He has provided for us to have tremendous strength and empowerment for all circumstances through trusting in Christ our Savior.
In Philippians 4:14-18 Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi, Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
We are finding out some very surprising information about the life of the Apostle Paul. In our day we give great credit and honor to Paul for what he accomplished by the grace of God. But evidently that did not happen while he was alive. He says here that at least during a certain period of time none of the other churches except for those at Philippi. Paul was not discouraged by the unfortunate and difficult circumstance that this put him in. He used it as an opportunity to learn an important spiritual lesson about doing without and being content with whatever circumstances God permitted to come his way.
Paul said that he was glad that the Philippians gave to him, not because he desired gifts from them but because he wanted to see fruit abound to their account. After being saved by grace, Paul lived passionately with the goal of gaining every reward possible at the judgment when believers are judged for their works in order to determine what rewards they will receive. Thats what he referred to in I Corinthians 9:24-27 that says, Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Paul knew that the believers in Philippi would be rewarded for what they had done to assist him in his ministry. Paul liked to see good things happen to good people. He did not ask for these gifts, but he showed much thankfulness for them, and he was especially glad that the Philippians would gain a reward in heaven for what they had done for him. If you are going to do something for other people, make sure that you start with other Christians, and make sure that you give to help spread the gospel. It would be a sad thing for a Christian to die and go to heaven and stand at the judgment with no rewards because they did not do the kinds of things the Philippians did. The Philippians were able to look forward to great rewards at the judgment because they gave to the material needs of the Apostle Paul.
The Bible says in Philippians 4:19, But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Paul had spent several verses writing about his own material needs and the efforts of the Philippians to assist him, and he concludes the entire discussion with a reminder of the great promise and spiritual principle that applies to all believers. When you enter into faith in Christ, the great promises of the Bible become applied to your life on this earth in a very personal and living way. One of the promises that every Christian should remember is this one in Philippians 4:19. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
There are certain practical things that we must do in order to see the provision of our material needs. There is work to be done, and then there is payment after the work. They that do not work do not eat. If you are not independently wealthy, then you must work. In order to get the work that you want, it might require some education or training. Even if you are independently wealthy, there is still some work that God has for you to do. Thats the way the world works. If you think you are going to get something for nothing, then you are on a path that is going to take you away from what is practical and sensible. We must look at the practical side of things. God made the world that way. For every action there is a reaction. For every behavior there is a consequence.
There are three ways to obtain material things. You can work for them. You can be given them freely from someone else. Finally, you can steal them. Of course, for a Christian stealing is out because the Bible says, Thou shalt not steal. If someone gives to you freely, such as with an inheritance, then you are responsible to use what has been given to you for the glory of God. If someone does not give to you in this way, then your only other option is to work for material gain. Once you have gained, you are responsible to use it for the glory of God.
Even though you have considered and dealt with all the practical aspects of living in a material world where our physical lives have certain basic needs and requirements, whether your material supply comes from gifts or from your work, as a believer you are always mindful that the ultimate source of your material needs is God through Christ. Should your current source of material gain dry up, God will supply another. You are the child of a multi-multi-billionaire, who has a great storehouse of unimaginable riches. From this storehouse He will generously and faithfully supply all that you need. This includes material things, but it also includes much more. What price-tag could be put on salvation, or faith, or love, or the joy of the spirit, or wisdom, or any of the great spiritual blessings that we can have through Christ? Just concerning salvation Jesus said, What should it profit a man should he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul? Thinking of these things, we must agree with what Paul said in Philippians 4:20, Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
In Philippians 4:21-23 Paul gave his final greetings to the Philippians and his final expression of good will towards them. He said, Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesars household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. In these verses Paul calls believers saints and brothers. Callings us saints, which means holy ones, refers to our relationship with God. God calls us holy, not because of ourselves, but because of Jesus and through Jesus. Calling us brothers refers to our relationship with each other. All believers have the same Savior and the same Father God, and therefore we are members of the same spiritual family. Sometimes there is a lack of friendliness among believers and care for one another. We have splintered into too many groups that do not talk to each other. The Bible says to salute every saint.
Its interesting to note that Paul mentioned Christians in Rome who are of Caesars household. The leadership of the Roman government were rich and powerful. Many of their names can be found in our history books today. They had many servants who are unknown to history, but Paul spoke of these servants and slaves to Caesar, indicating that some of the servants had become believers in Jesus. The leadership of the Roman government had taken a man like Paul and put him in chains and thrown him into a prison. Notice the contrast between what seemed to be, and what really was. Those who appeared to be free, were slaves to sin and its guilt and condemnation. Those who appeared to be servants and prisoners had the greatest of freedom because they knew the truth. Jesus said, You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
The last verse of the book of Philippians speaks of the most important thing concerning what Jesus can do for a person on this earth. Paul wrote, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. The Christian life begins and ends with grace. You are saved by grace, you are kept by grace, you are gifted by grace, and you are strengthened by grace. Without grace through Christ you are nothing and you can do nothing. With grace through Christ you are everything and you can do anything. Thank God there is a great supply of grace, Gods riches and enabling that He gives through Christ. Instead of law and its condemnation that came through Moses, we have the grace of God and its mercy that is freely given through Christ.
Copyright; 2001 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved