Bible Studies for Life

with Don Hicks

Sunday,  February 26

Giving with Joy

Philippians 4:10-20

Last week’s lesson from the first part of this last chapter of Philippians said “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (HCSB).  This week’s focal passage begins, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that once again you renewed your care for me,” Philippians 4:10a (HCSB).  We can find several clues to Paul’s abundant joy in this passage.  But let’s look much deeper at Paul’s continual life style that leads to rejoicing daily through his faith.

Here is the key to understanding Paul’s eternal optimism:  “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” Philippians 4:13 (KJV).  The Layman’s Bible Book Commentary Volume 22 written by Malcolm O. Tolbert, a professor of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, gives some interesting insights.  “It has often been said that Paul’s statement in verses 11-12 is very similar to Stoic thought.  In verse 13, however, we see the difference between him and the Stoics.  They cultivated an attitude of indifference toward the circumstances of life, and their strength was due to their own resources.  Paul’s strength, however, came as a result of his ‘in Christ’ relationship.  The secret of his contentment in difficult circumstances was Christ.” 

Many mature Christians claim Philippians 4:13 as their life verse.  To the extent these Christ followers are living by Paul’s understanding, stressed by Professor Tolbert, that the secret to contentment is Christ, this is a valuable understanding.  Paul’s “in Christ” relationship or his concept that contentment is Christ, has the same basic truth found in John 14:6 when Jesus says, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” John 14:6 (AMP).

King James quotes Jesus saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The deepest existential meaning of “the life” is that “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  There is no life except that given by God, Himself.  God chooses to give us life by placing our faith in Jesus Christ, thus the introduction to “The Comfort Chapter,” “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me,” John 14:1 (KJV).  The concept here is to believe “the truth” which Jesus plainly claims is Him.  Jesus is in very essence the truth, which is the only way to life.  This way (Jesus) is the way to the “In Christ” relationship Paul refers to in the fourth chapter of Philippians.

Our focal passage closes with Paul writing, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever,” Philippians 4:19-20 (HCSB).  There is an underlying practical explanation in this passage about some of the ways God supplies all your needs.  Remember where we started this lesson: “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that once again you renewed your care for me,” Philippians 4:10a (HCSB).  Paul acknowledged that it had been hard for the Christians in Philippi to send him tangible help in Rome.

Epaphroditus carried the help from Macedonia to Paul who was in chains in Rome.  Paul’s gratitude was lavish and he wrote, “But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance.  I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God,” Philippians 4:18 (HCSB).   Paul wanted his readers to understand that God would meet all their needs, as well.  “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:19 (HCSB).  Paul searched for the most extravagant explanation he could find to explain God’s generous supply.  The extravagant explanation that the Holy Spirit gave Paul was “his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Paul says I was not in despite need but “Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship,” Philippians 4:14 (HCSB).     Paul, appreciatively, remembers that in the early days, the Philippians gave him gifts when no other church did.  Then “even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times,” Philippians 4:16 (HCSB).  In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul stated this basic Christian truth “God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7c.

Hicks is associational missions director for Jasper Association in Bay Springs.