Through our studies of Philippians we’ve looked at our lives in perspective of the hope of salvation. We’ve talked about what it’s like to try to be like Jesus. We’ve looked at our goals and measured them against Paul had for his spiritual growth. Finally, we’re going to look at the joy we should have in Christ and the way prayer and thanksgiving can help us attain that deep spiritual joy.
Unity in Love
As he closes this letter, Paul once again makes an exhortation for unity. He reminds them and us of God’s providence and and he encourages to rejoice. Paul instructs us to seek unity and agreement with one another for the sake of the gospel on multiple occasions. For example, in 1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul writes:
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
We see this again in Philippians 4:2 when he encourages us to again find agreement in the Lord. He dissuades us from quarrels and divisions that can drive unrest and lead us away from our focus on being Christ-like. He specifically calls out a couple of Christians named Euodia and Syntyche, who are involved in a disagreement, and he asks a dear friend to intervene and assist them in settling it. The same focus on unity is asked of you and me today. Let’s not let the things of this world get in the way of our focus on doing God’s will.
Contentment in God
The latter part of the chapter sees Paul direct us to focus on the contentment only God can supply. This can be tough, and it’s easy to get focused on self in such a way that we become discontent. There have been times in my own life when I’ve felt like God is ignoring me or has left me to fend for myself. Paul confronts times of weakness like that beginning in verse 12.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Skipping down to verse 19:
My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever.
Paul reminds us of God’s care for us and His desire for us to find contentment with what He has supplied us. Paul certainly didn’t go about preaching what some call a prosperity gospel. He faced more struggles and trials than any of us are likely to face in our Christian journeys.
A Higher Perspective
Has anything happened that ruined your day or week, or even month? I once thought I was on a sure road to promotion in the company where I was working. I finished my first large project and was looking forward to the rewards from that venture when I was unexpectedly laid off — one week before Christmas. That sure ruined my month.
But it’s hard to compare experiences I’ve had like that to the struggles that Paul had. Starting in II Corinthians 11:16, we see Paul talk about imprisonments, beatings, near-death experiences, torture, going hungry and sleepless, being shipwrecked, and more. And at the end of that passage, he talks about the concern he has for the well-being of all churches. He rejoiced with confidence in God. He didn’t shy away from the challenges or threats he faced.
What’s your focus? What are you thinking about as you go about your day — when things are great or when you are facing struggles? Do you dwell on the problems or find contentment and hope in Christ? I’d encourage you to reread through Paul’s experiences in life and take note of how he views things. Having a perspective like his can change our lives and lead us down a path of greater contentment and joy.
lesson by Aaron Kadel