This week we are going to be finishing our series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It’s been so great to get deep into this letter and to pull it apart to see what can be learnt today, all these years later. I hope that you have enjoyed the journey too.
Philippians 4: 1-23
Closing Appeal for Steadfastness and Unity
1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Thanks for Their Gifts
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 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 all this through him who gives me strength.
14 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 more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
This final chapter from Paul sums up a lot of things that have been mentioned throughout the entire letter; and brings things to a close. The first part that we read though in verses 2-3 is something altogether different; this is Paul publicly commenting on a disagreement between two women in the church on Philippi. He is pointing out that they need to sort their stuff out, and focus on the Lord, rather than living in disagreement with one another. Which, presumably, they have been doing for quite some time, since we assume that Paul hears about this from Epaphroditus who brought their letter to him in Prison (on foot). Paul urges them to make amends, and asks that his “true companion” aid in the situation. We don’t know who that is, but this is Paul’s way of giving someone else his authority in the situation. So not only is Paul trying to help the church as a whole grow deeper in their faith, but he is also helping people on an individual level too, taking real care.
We then move on to some of my favourite verses, 4-7. The word “Rejoice” that is used here could also have been used to mean “celebrate” which is a much more open and outward expression on joy. In that time other cultures / religions would hold festival and parties for their gods, so Paul is almost saying “why shouldn’t Christians have their own parties for our God too?” But these parties should not lead to out of control behaviour, but instead they should be gentle, so that more people will see and want to attend this new religion. Verse 6 is just brilliant. Paul is teaching us that nothing is too small for God. Whatever is on our minds is something that God wants to know about; whatever it is, we can take it to God in prayer and he will listen, and answer our prayers. Nothing is too small for God. When we take our prayers to God, we will also receive his peace; there is nothing that could calm anyone more than the peace of God. So let’s take our prayers to him in every situation.
Verses 8-9 Paul encourage us to see the beauty of God’s creations, the true wonders of the world around us. It’s hard for us now, when the news papers, social media, the internet focuses so much on the negatives, and broadcasts such lies to the entire world, we can almost lose sight of the beauty of God’s creation. Strive everyday to see a small element of God’s beauty in your world. Someone I follow on Instagram used to post “Daily Gratitude” stories every day when we cycled around the world, and in it he would post 3 things he was grateful for that day; it’s not always easy to find them, but why not give it a go?
Starting from verse 10 we finally realise the relationship between Paul and the church in Philippi, the reason for his care and closeness with them. They are the only church that has been continually supporting him financially since he went to visit them. They are in part the reason he has been able to visit so many places and help so many churches. Paul is careful to show that he isn’t in this for the money, he’s not just trying to get rich as some people were in that day by fleecing churches of money, but that he is genuine, and he is using their money for the greater good of the Kingdom of God.
He ends his letter in true Paul style, greeting everyone and wishing God’s grace on all of them.
Lord, help me to celebrate the goodness of you, of what you do in my life. Help me to also take my prayers to you, however small they are, for I know you will listen. I ask that you would fill me with your peace, keep me calm Lord, and help me to focus on you in all I do. Amen.
Sum it up
We should always celebrate God’s goodness, and take all our prayers to God no matter how small, and strive to see the beauty in God’s creation every day.
Try this week to find three things every day that you are grateful for, and thank God for them, and try and spot his beauty in the world around you in everything you do.