Summary: Our loyalty to Christ and other believers should supersede all other factors. We should receive and support every other Christian regardless of race, denomination, political party, or any other affiliation. This message expounds Philippians 4:10-23.
For the last two messages we have addressed Paul’s expression of gratitude for the gift the Philippians had sent him. That is found in Philippians 4:10-20. There we discovered a wealth of revelation that has filled our hearts with peace and confidence. Those two previous messages focused on three statements.
(1) In verse 11 Paul said, “. . . I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”i Have you learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be? Godliness with contentment is great gain.ii It is of enormous value! It is more valuable than silver and gold.iii It frees us from the tyranny of lust and greed. It promotes internal peace and serenity. We talked about that extensively two weeks ago.
(2) In verse 13 Paul makes this astounding declaration: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Paul was not speaking out of self-confidence; his was Christ-confidence. The statement is only possible because it includes the phrase, “through him.” The King James Version says, “through Christ.” You can count on the grace, the Christ-given strength, needed for any and every situation as you follow the Lord.
(3) Additionally, we have the promise in verse 19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Those three truths are so rich in meaning, so profound and practical that we spent all our time talking about them during the last couple of weeks. These jewels of revelation emerged as Paul explained his expressions of appreciation for their gift. He wanted to make sure they did not misunderstand what he was saying. So, in the explanation he provides insight on how we should think about these matters.
Today we will complete our study of those verses just to be clear on how the narrative flows. Then we will examine the greetings in verses 21-23. We will deal with: (1) The GIFT commended in verses 10-20.
(2) The GREETINGS commanded in verses 21-23.
I. The GIFT commended by Paul is discussed in Philippians 4:10-20.
In that passage he states his appreciation three times. Each time he follows up with clarification of the statement so that there is no misunderstanding of what he is saying. The appreciation is then stated again in the next verse.
We have his first statement of gratitude in verse 10: “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.” This statement is embellished in verses 15-16 where Paul talks about the specifics of their history. Early in the life of this church the Philippians were sending financial support to Paul. Then there was an interval when the giving ceased. We don’t know exactly why, but verse 10 lets us know it not because of any falling out or apathy. Circumstances simply
changed in such a way that it was not possible. Paul is acknowledging that and rejoicing in the expression of their love through the gift he has just received from them.iv
But there was the danger they would think Paul felt desperate for the gift itself. His need was very real. But Paul was not anxious about it in any way. He knew that God would do one of two things. He would supply the need through some source, or He would grace Paul to do without the resource. Paul was fine with either one. In verse 9 and earlier in this letter (3:17) he told these Philippians to learn from his example. It’s important they not misunderstand what that example is.
So, he clarifies his attitude toward the need in verses 11-13: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” He is saying, “Whether the supplies come or don’t come, I am content in my soul. I’ve learned how to rest in God either way. I can do that through the grace or strength that God supplies.” It’s important that the Philippians follow that example, especially during the persecution they are experiencing (1:27-30).
Then in verse 14 he expresses his gratitude a second time with a fuller commendation of their faithfulness in supporting him. “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.”