Summary: In difficult times followers of Christ are assured of Strength and Resources as needed. Believers can live in peace and contentment when they know the two assurances in Philippians 4:13 and 19. Those verses provide foundation for biblical OPTIMISIM.
Our text today provides a sure foundation for optimism. Christians should be the most optimistic people on the face of the earth. I’m not talking about a Polly Anna avoidance of the challenges. I’m talking about a deep confidence that nothing can happen that is beyond God’s all-sufficiency. I’m talking about an optimism based on God’s plans and watchful care for our well-being.i
Are you looking forward to the days ahead with confidence and optimism? Can you see past the political uncertainties, past the pandemic threat, and past the economic challenges and say in your heart, “It is well with my soul”?ii If Paul were with us today, he would be excited about the opportunities before us. He would express a biblical optimism about the weeks and months ahead. His optimism would be very different from that of the world. The hopes and expectations of the world stand on shaky ground.iii They are built on an unsure foundation.
Scripture often contrast the hopes of the righteous with the hopes and expectations of the wicked. Proverbs 10:28-29 is one example: ”The hope of the righteous will be gladness [or joyful], But the expectation of the wicked will perish. 29 The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.”iv
We know that happens in God’s timing. Sometimes the wicked person is “spreading himself like a green bay tree.”v For a time, his devices prosper. But in the end, he perishes. His expectations fail. His optimism proves to be unfounded. Like Haman he is ensnared in his own devices.vi Therefore we are instructed in Psalm 37: 7, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.” God always has the last word.
Our text is Philippians 4:13-20 but I want us to read verses 4-20 to maintain context for this teaching. What Paul says in our text flows out of what he has said in the previous verses.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
[Our text last week began in verse 10 and ended in verse 13]. 10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
[Now we come to our text for today.] 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me 14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Today we will deal with TWO ASSURANCES in that passage. The first is found in verse 13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The second is in verse 19: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” If you’re looking for verses to memorize, these are prime candidates. They provide, for the Christian, a firm foundation for unshakable optimism. They are God’s assurance of victory to all who put their trust in Him. Peace of mind is sustained when we rest in these truths.