I love the book of Philippians. I absolutely love it. It’s probably one of the first books that I started underlining in when I was a kid. It is so practical. It is so instructional. It is so encouraging. If you didn’t know much of anything about the Bible and what living for God looks like, you’ve found the right place to start. My biggest disappointment with Philippians is that it is so short. It leaves me wanting more. I know that we have the rest of the Bible but I find myself in no hurry to quickly move on from it. Skim with me over this encouraging book of the Bible that God uses to build us up.
In chapter one I am told that my present state is not where I am doomed to live the rest of my life. Instead, I am told, that God is planning on doing a continuous work in my life all the way up to where He either takes me home or He comes for me. Simply put, God is not finished with me yet. How encouraging is that?
In chapter 2 he reminds me to have the same mindset as Christ. And that means in humility, I am to value others over myself. If I strive for that I will end up looking more like Jesus looks than what the average person in the world looks like. That sure makes it easier for Him to use me to accomplish good things.
In chapter 3 Paul tells me that he has put the past behind him. He even uses the word “forgetting.” All the mistakes of the past, all the things that he wishes he had done differently, all the hurts and disappointments, by Paul’s choice and the power of God in his life, all those things will no longer have any power whatsoever over him. Instead his gaze is forward toward what is coming next. For anybody who has ever had regrets or who has wished for a do-over, this has to come as great news.
And then we come to chapter four, the final chapter. How does Paul do what he does? In one place he is treated like a king. In other places they beat him up, chase him away, or threaten him with his life. Yet this book, the book of Philippians literally drips with joy. In this book Paul is so upbeat, so positive, so optimistic. And did I forget to mention where this letter was being sent from. Hello. Paul was writing this good news letter not from the Rome Mariott or Hilton Italian Suites. He was writing this letter from prison. From prison. He didn’t have his freedom, but he was still joyful. He doesn’t leave his readers wondering very long as to how a person could in the face of the opposition, incarcerated, lacking so many of the comforts that he could have been enjoying, as to how a person could pull off what he was pulling off.
The answer is in Philippians 4:11-13, 19
…for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need…And the same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
I love how Paul takes life by the horns. It doesn’t matter what people might throw at him. He lives with the contentment that can only come from God as we determine to live by His power instead of just our own.
I’ll finish with one last word of encouragement from our brother, the apostle Paul.
For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.