I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen (Philippians 4:10-20 ESV).
To see why I arced this passage the way I did, watch the video at the bottom of the page.
I’m going to focus on application in this post. There are three applications I see:
- Learn contentment through Christ’s strength.
Paul qualifies his thankfulness with the statement that he has learned contentment (11-12) and that he is able to meet every circumstance head-on with peace through Christ’s strength (13).
How can we be content in a time of crisis, of “facing … hunger”? 13 has the answer. Paul was not self-sufficient but Christ-sufficient. See 2 Tim 1:2 and esp. 2 Cor 12:9-10.
This letter shows us that neither Paul’s circumstances (1:12-13) nor the Philippians’ (1:28; 3:2; 4:2-3) were ideal. So if our circumstances are far from ideal, that doesn’t remove the possibility of being content!
Note that this was something Paul “learned” (12d). This shows us that it wasn’t natural, but that it can happen, so we should have hope! This also shows us that our current bad circumstances should be our teacher; we shouldn’t run away from them.
Now, the main applications will be from v. 18-20, since this is where the logical emphasis of the passage is.
- Seek the spiritual good of others.
Paul also didn’t praise the Philippians for their generosity because he wanted more, but because he wanted them to have more eternal blessings (17a-b).
Are we more interested in having our needs met, or in seeing others prosper spiritually? See Phil 2:1-5ff.
- Help others, and trust God to provide for you. This glorifies God!
The emphasis of the passage is the Result of the Philippians’ gift. 1) Since they met Paul’s need, therefore God would meet all of theirs (19). 2) God’s provision, blessing them for their provision, would result in eternal glory to God.
Are we seeking to be a blessing to others? We can trust in God to meet our needs when we are seeking first his kingdom. See Matt 6:33.
See also 2 Cor 9:11-14. Our actions today can bring about glory to God forever!