Lesson 17

Paul's Letter to the Philippians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

4:10 But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at length you have revived your thought for me; in which you did indeed take thought, but you lacked opportunity. 4:11 Not that I speak in respect to lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. 4:12 I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. 4:14 However you did well that you had fellowship with my affliction. 

Today's Lesson  

In the Letter to the Philippians, Paul has continually encouraged the Philippians to be united and of one mind. He has stressed the need for social unity between Christians and has used the prime example of Christ to emphasize the type of attitude and behavior that the Philippians should have toward one another. He had even used himself as another example that the Philippians should emulate.


As this letter draws to a close, Paul again thanks the Philippians for the generous gift that they had provided for his needs. While Paul was in prison, the Christians at Philippi had sent a monetary gift to help him to maintain a household and a measure of comfort during his house arrest. He writes to the Philippians and tells them that he rejoices in the Lord greatly for what they have done.


But Paul does not rejoice in their gift simply because it made his life a little more bearable. He rejoiced that in the giving of their gift the Philippians were able to express and cement the concern that they had for the apostle. Paul understood that generosity, when it flows from the love of the heart, affects the giver more than it does the one who receives it. Paul rejoiced in the gift from the Philippians because he knew that God would use their generosity to draw them closer to Paul and to Christ.


Paul believed so strongly in this principle that he spent a great deal of time during the later stages of his ministry trying to teach this lesson to the early churches that he had helped to found. Paul raised funds in these churches to help the impoverished Christians in Jerusalem. Paul had raised these funds and went around to each of the churches gathering the money. In fact, it was during that trip to Jerusalem, after he had delivered the funds to the leaders of the Jerusalem church, that Paul was arrested. After being arrested, Paul had appealed his case to Rome and this appeal resulted in the imprisonment in Rome from which Paul wrote this letter.


But Paul wanted the Philippians to know that his joy in their gift was not because it made his life more comfortable. Paul had learned to be content in all situations through Christ. He had been poor and he had been rich. Paul understood that what was important was that Christ was with him in all things. "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."


The contentment that Paul expresses does not come overnight. Paul had learned this contentment over years of being led by the Spirit of God. He had experienced all manners of trials and challenges. All along the way he had been learning that God never deserts us. Do you need this kind of a God? Are you willing to allow God to mold you through all the circumstances of your life until you find true contentment as well?


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