In the previous chapter, Paul spoke about our citizenship is in heaven and we’re eagerly awaiting our Saviour Jesus Christ who is going to come someday and take us home to heaven where we belong. And he reminded us how to live our lives while we are waiting for His return, Philippians 3:20-21.
And so, after telling us to live like heaven people, Paul say tells the Philippians they need to stand firm in the Lord. We’re supposed to walk in this world in such a way, it reflects our true citizenship and there’s going to be a lot of opposition.
So Paul is saying, ‘he wants us to take a stand against Satan but not only that, he wants us to fight intelligently’, Ephesians 6:10-12. Paul now goes on to speak about three ways we can stand firm against the devil.
1. Paul says we must take a stand against disunity.
We don’t know who Paul’s true companion was, maybe it is Epaphroditus, maybe it’s Timothy, maybe it’s Lydia, we don’t know.
Notice Paul thinks that preaching the Gospel, the work of the Gospel is a co-head task and women were helping him spread the Gospel in Philippi and these two ladies had played a prominent role in his ministry in Philippi.
These two sisters were estranged and Paul felt their disagreement was serious enough to mention their names. I don’t think their dispute was over a point of doctrine because Paul doesn’t say, ‘one is wrong and one is right’.
We see, in his other letters, Paul isn’t bashful about giving his opinion when doctrine is at stake and so, whatever was upsetting these two ladies, it wasn’t about doctrine.
But whatever the problem was, there was a bigger problem, the bigger problem was these two ladies weren’t ‘putting the interest of the others first’ like Paul said to do back in Philippians 2:3. They needed to be reminded that their common love for the Lord was more important than their present conflict.
Remember Satan wants us to live in such a way that we deny our citizenship and so, instead of taking sides, Paul mobilises the church to address the conflict. Paul didn’t deal with this privately, because he knows it was going to take the church to help with the healing.
Conflict is like an infection, and if you don’t do something about it, it’s just going to spread and it’s going to suck the joy right out of a church. So Paul isn’t going to ignore it, Paul isn’t going to pretend everything is ok when it’s not. For Paul, the health of the body was more important than the appearance of health.
And so, Paul tells certain mature leaders to step in there and be peacemakers and it’s a compliment to this church that he thinks that they’re mature enough to handle it. Peacemakers aren’t appreciated in the body like they ought to be, but Paul says, ‘their names are written in the book of life.’ Philippians 4:3.
What saddens me about this passage of Scripture is that even though Euodia and Syntyche stood side by side with Paul and helped him preach the Gospel, they are remembered for having a fuss and they wouldn’t make up.
2. Paul says we must take a stand against anxiety.
I think worry is our greatest joy stealer, and Satan knows our witness of citizens of heaven is rendered absolutely impudent when our lives are dominated by anxiety. Now, what is a worry?
A worry is anything that’s draining our tank of joy. Anything that’s making it hard for us to rejoice in the Lord is a worry and we need to take a stand against it.
What am I supposed to do about worry? Well, Paul says two things.
1. ‘Remember the Lord is near, remember that Jesus is close’, Philippians 4:5
Anxiety is usually caused by an uncertain future but for the Christian the future has already been secured, we know what’s going to happen in the future.
And we can rejoice in our circumstances because our circumstances don’t have the final word, the Lord Jesus has the final word and He’s coming back soon. And worrying is going to start leaving us when we remember Jesus is coming.
2. ‘Pray about everything,’ Philippians 4:6.
If we spent the time praying, we spend worrying, we would have a lot less to worry about, Ephesians 6:12 / Ephesians 6:18. Some Christians do the exact opposite, the more they have to worry about, the less they pray. Paul says, ‘worry about nothing, pray about everything, and give thanks for it.’
Notice that the very act of praying is recognising the sovereignty of God and His control over tomorrow. Just the act of praying will help you with your worry but there’s something else that’s going to happen.
Paul says, ‘when we start regularly praying to God, we’re going to get what we need most of all, we’re going to get the experience of a supernatural touch in our life.
We’re going to get a peace that will flood life, that we can’t even explain but we cannot explain away either,’ Philippians 4:7. I can’t explain it, the Bible says, ‘It’s beyond understanding.’ But it’s God’s gift of a supernatural visitation to you to take away our worry.
Notice that the pace we receive will guard and hearts and minds, the word ‘guard’ literally was a military term. In other words, God’s peace is going to set up like a century around our minds, to keep all that worry away.
3. Paul says we must take a stand against negativity.
In the Book of Philippians, there are 16 references to a person’s mind or his thoughts. I believe that joy, is a gift of the Holy Spirit but I also believe that our thoughts can quench the Holy Spirit or spur the Holy Spirit to fill us with joy as His desire is. I believe that most Christians are much too indiscriminate about what they allow in their minds.
Paul says, ‘we should drill our mind to look for all the reasons around us to rejoice.’. the Bible say, ‘be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life,’ Proverbs 4:23.
Satan loves to plant negative, critical thinkers in our church and they suck the joy right out of that place. We must dwell on what is good and fine about other people and think about all we can praise God for them and be glad about it, Philippians 4:8.
We must understand that standing firm doesn’t mean standing still. Paul wants us to identify what our struggle is and do something about it, Philippians 4:9.
Let’s do a little review, why did Paul write to the Philippian church?
Remember he had a great relationship with them but as he mentioned he lost contact with them and they didn’t know exactly where he was. Paul got arrested and was sent to Rome and was put in jail and when the church in Philippi found out, they wanted to do something to help.
We must note that our prison system today isn’t like the Roman prison system. When we put people in jail, the tax that you pay pays for their food and their upkeep while they’re in jail but in Rome, when they put you in jail, you better have some friends and some family to take care of you or you’ll starve because the Roman government didn’t pay for you while you were in jail.
And so when the Philippian church heard that Paul was in jail, they knew he would have needs. So they gathered up some money and they gave it to their servant Epaphroditus and he went 600 miles to Rome to give Paul the money so that he could be provided for.
And Paul is writing back and thanking them for their gift and that’s how we close the Book of Philippians with his thank you note to them but it’s one of the most amazing thank you notes a preacher has ever written.
Because he said, ‘I’m not needing your gift,’ Philippians 4:11, and he says, ‘I wasn’t seeking your gift,’ Philippians 4:17. In no way did he want to communicate that the physical comfort their money afforded had increased his ability to cope with his circumstances.
He said, ‘the only reason he took their money was so that they could be fruitful not because he needed it.’ Philippians 4:17. Paul wants it to be clear, ‘thank you for the gift, it was very kind, I can use it but it didn’t change my ability to rejoice in the Lord.’
Paul wasn’t defined by wealth or by poverty but by a contentment that transcended both. Paul had discovered a secret, a secret that kept his personal happiness from being dependent upon the proper arrangement of the external circumstances in his life.
Paul had learned the secret of contentment in any situation and he learned three things.
1. Paul learned to be satisfied with his blessings.
One of the great disgraces of our day is the huge number of ungrateful Christians. Paul said, ‘he knew plenty’ and he also said, ‘he knew, want,’ Philippians 4:12. My own opinion is that Paul knew plenty of wants.
Paul said, ‘thank you for your gift, but I’m not saying this because I’m in need.’ He says, ‘I have learned to be satisfied with the things that I have and with everything that happens,’ Philippians 4:11. Paul said the same thing to his young friend Timothy, 1 Timothy 6:6-8.
We don’t bring anything into the world, nothing, we come into this world naked in every sense of the word and we’re going to leave this world with nothing. And so everything we have between the time we come and the time we leave is just a temporary gift from God to us.
Notice that Paul says, ‘God is able and willing to meet all of your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus,’ Philippians 4:19. What I have found is, like Paul, I know how to be content when I have plenty, my problem is being content when you have plenty.
We’re never going to be a joyful Christians until we learn to be a grateful people, Philippians 4:6.
2. We need to learn to be sustained by His strength.
Paul’s confidence that God would meet all his needs wasn’t an affirmation that God would remove all his difficult circumstances but a firm belief that God would supply the resources in Christ to cope with his circumstances.
Paul says, ‘I know God’s going to give me the resources amid my problems to do everything Jesus wants me to do,’ Philippians 4:13.
Remember Paul was in a prison, he didn’t look anything like a winner, he wasn’t a strong man, but he was a man with a strong confidence in the ability of Christ to match every situation, 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Paul is saying, ‘even in a stinking prison, I can do everything Christ wants me to do because He’s going to give me the strength to survive.’
Whatever Christ wants us to do, Christ can give us the strength to do and if we want to experience God’s power, we need to take a step in faith in obedience and do what God said. And God will show up along the way and give us the strength to complete the mission, Joshua 3:15-16.
3. We need to learn to surrender to His will.
I don’t think we can understand Paul’s contentment until we understand Paul’s commitment. Circumstances didn’t take over his life because Paul wasn’t preoccupied with his circumstances.
He was occupied with how he could honour Christ in any circumstance. He was so totally surrendered to Jesus Christ, it didn’t matter what you threw at him, he was going to honour Jesus, Philippians 1:20-21.
Paul is thanking this church for their gift of money, but he doesn’t need their money to be joyful. What he’s rejoicing about is all the blessings that they’re going to receive because they have given their money to the Lord by giving it to Paul.
Paul says, ‘I want you to receive the blessings that come from giving.’ Philippians 4:17, and Jesus said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive,’ Acts 20:35. The real blessing comes from being a giver and not from being a hoarder.
Paul says there are at least three wonderful blessings that come when we’re good enough to share.
1. Through giving you encourage others.
Paul was very encouraged by their gift and rejoiced greatly for their concern for him, Philippians 4:10. When Epaphroditus brought the money, it wasn’t the money that made Paul happy.
What made Paul happy was the proof that the Philippian church really cared about him. It wasn’t just talk, if you really love people you’re going to meet their needs and that’s going to demand sacrifice.
When a man is in prison and the state isn’t going to take care of his food. They’re not going to take care of his medicine, they aren’t going to pay for his blankets, he doesn’t need a lot of talk, he needs cash.
And the way you show you care about him, and the way you show you are concerned for him, is you support him, commitment to ministry requires more than talk.
It requires a willingness to bear the expense of the ministry and this was the Philippian church, who sent him aid, again and again, Philippians 4:15-16. Ministry is expensive and it’s an encouragement to people who are in ministry when they know some people want to be partners by giving to that ministry, Philippians 1:3-6.
Paul said, ‘it’s an encouragement to know that your growing in Christ and the way I know your growing in Christ and that he’s completing the work he’s started in you is by the tangible demonstration of your willingness to sacrifice for kingdom causes.’
Do you that when churches give to support the Gospel, they encourage other churches? When Paul wanted to inspire other churches, he would talk about the church in Philippi.
This church had a great reputation and encouraged churches all over the world because they were willing to put their support on the line for Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.
2. Through giving we invest in eternity.
We all know that we can’t take money with us when we die but we can send it on ahead. Those words ‘credited to your account’ in Philippians 4:17, literally means, ‘I’m looking forward to all of the accumulation interest you’re going to receive.’
In other words, we have an account in heaven and every deposit we make and every time we put some treasure in heaven that account is recorded and it’s rewarded. And the way we put treasure in our heavenly portfolio is by investing in kingdom causes, Luke 16:9.
We do this by investing in people and in helping people find Christ and then someday when we are received into heaven, all the people who were blessed by our gifts are going to be there to welcome us.
We never become poor when we give to bless others, we’re just sending ahead what we can’t take with us. It’s one of the true blessings in giving,1 Timothy 6:18-19.
2. We’re blessed because we worship God.
I did a little study one time with the word ‘worship’ and I found something interesting. The first time the word worship is used in the Old Testament is in Genesis 22:5 when Abraham was about to offer Isaac up to the Lord on a mountain and says to his servants, ‘I’m going go up to that mountain and worship God.’
And the first time the word worship is used in the New Testament is in Matthew 2:2 when wise men bring gold and incense and myrrh and they lay it at the feet of the baby and they kneel and they worship him.
And so, we’re introduced in the Old Testament and the New Testament to this very important truth and that’s the worship of God, is bringing your very best to God and laying it at his feet to honour and praise Him. Paul understood that giving is in fact pure worship.
God receives pleasure from our giving, Philippians 4:18. Why? Because when we give, we’re most like Christ. When Paul said that money given to people to preach the Gospel is like giving to God he said, ‘It’s a fragrant offering and an acceptable sacrifice’.
When we give in our offering we’re making an offering that pleases God, we’re sacrificing just like Christ did, Ephesians 5:2. Every pound we own has a smell, every pound we own either has a fragrant aroma to God or a rotten stench because it was either used for His glory or used for selfish passions.
Paul understood that when we give to people in Jesus’ Name we’re really giving to God, Matthew 25:40. Paul knew that God is going to treat people the way they treat others, if we’re generous to others then God is going to be generous to us. In other words, we can’t win a giving contest with God.
Notice Paul doesn’t say, ‘out of his glorious riches but according to,’ Philippians 4:19. When God pours out blessings into our life, He doesn’t give it out of His riches, He gives it according to His riches.
In other words, the finite can never exhaust the infinite. God isn’t just going to give from His wealth, He’s going to give in a manner that befits His wealth. He’s going to give like the rich King that He is when we trust Him.
The promise is that God is going to meet all the needs of the people who sacrifice and give for the sake of the kingdom of God. God promises if our heart is to be a cheerful giver, God will make sure we can always fulfil what our heart desires, 2 Corinthians 9:6-8.
If we want to be a person that supports the kingdom of God, he’ll give us what we need to make sure we can do it, 2 Corinthians 9:11.
Paul continues and gives us three reasons why Jesus Christ makes us glad.
1. Jesus is our identity.
‘Greet all the saints’, he said, ‘in Christ Jesus.’ Now, something is going on here that’s kind of interesting.
Usually, when Paul closes a letter, he mentions a bunch of people by name but when Paul closes the letter to the Philippians, he doesn’t mention anybody by name. He stresses the equal worth before God of every member of the congregation.
Remember that this church is marked by diversity. When we go back to Acts 16, we remember the first three converts. The first one was a Jewish lady, or at least a Jewish proselyte named Lydia, the second convert was possibly a Greek slave girl and the third convert was a Roman soldier jailer.
These first three Christians in Philippi are as different racially, religiously, and socially as you could possibly be. And you’ve got a church that is made up of people that are from completely different kinds of backgrounds. And so Paul ends the letter just like he started it back in Philippians 1:1 by speaking to ‘all the saints in Christ Jesus’.
In other words, Paul wanted the brethren in Philippi to look at each other and see only one thing, not Jew, Greek, Roman, not slave, free, and not male-female.
He says, ‘I want you to see one thing when you look at each other, I want you to see a fellow believer who’s been washed by the same blood that washed away your sins.’ Our common unity is because we have a common identity, Philippians 2:1-2.
It ought to make us glad that there’s a place where we can come and it doesn’t matter if we’re rich or poor, it doesn’t matter if we’re black, white, red or brown. It doesn’t matter if we’re sick or well if we’re old or young, it doesn’t matter if up hold up your hands or sit on them, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is, that all of us have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, that’s what matters and that ought to make us glad. Because it’s our identity in Christ that keeps us safe when the world and hell throw all they have got at us.
2. Jesus is our victory.
Paul said in ‘all the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household,’ Philippians 4:22. Now, why did Paul mention those brethren specifically?
I think it goes back to what he hinted at back in Philippians 1:12-13. The palace guard was this special set of elite Roman soldiers attached to Caesar’s house, to protect him and his family and all the people that were waiting to see him in trial.
Every day, about every six hours, a new soldier would come in and he would chain himself to Paul and say, ‘I am here, assigned to guard you for my king’, and Paul would look back up and say, ‘that’s funny, I am here to guard you for my King’.
He’s telling the church in Philippi that the kingdom of a crucified carpenter is already starting to advance against the greatest empire in the world. He’s telling them, they’re a part of a movement of God, that hell and the strongest army on earth cannot stop.
What Paul is saying to them and us is, ‘hell has no chains that can stop or bind the Gospel.’ When Jesus Christ was crucified and then when He was resurrected, what that means is that every power in heaven, on earth and under the earth is subject to the kingdom of Christ, Colossians 2:15.
Sometimes I hear Christians say, ‘listen, we ought to go out there and fight for victory’, that’s wrong, we don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory. The victory was achieved for us when Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.
We’re waiting for the King to come, we’re waiting for the victory to be announced, Philippians 3:20-21. And one day, we’re going to witness the total submission of everything in the universe to Jesus Christ.
Every kingdom, every power, every agenda in heaven and on earth and under the earth, they’re all going to bow down and call Him Lord, Philippians 2:9-11. He’s our victory, it makes us glad.
3. Jesus is our sufficiency.
Paul by becoming a Christian didn’t escape difficult circumstances, what he discovered was that Jesus Christ was sufficient regardless of the circumstances.
That’s what Paul meant when he said in Philippians 4:11 ‘I can be content in any situation.’ That word content means sufficient. Paul said, ‘I’ve learned in any situation the grace of Jesus is sufficient.’ Philippians 4:12-13 / Philippians 4:19 / Philippians 4:23.
And we can never exhaust the supply of grace that Jesus Christ wants to send and that’s why Paul could say, ‘He has made me glad’.