How are you doing?
This is a question each of us ask or are asked many times everyday and the response in our culture is a simple, “I am good”.
As you look back on your life, have you found being financially blessed or being in want to be more challenging? Most would say being without is more challenging, but the Bible warns us against the comfort and real challenges of prosperity (see Proverbs 70:7-9).
Looking at your spiritual life, did you grow more in your faith when you experienced hardships or when everything was going well?
Paul was in prison, and he was reflecting on his life and journey as a Christian. He had been through some tough times, beaten, left for dead, shipwrecked, abandoned and imprisoned, but in spite of it all, he was rejoicing.
In Philippians 4:10, Paul was thanking the Philippian church for a financial gift, he was deeply appreciative of the people in the church that he had planted ten years before.
The word “providence” comes from two Latin words: pro, meaning “before,” and video, meaning “to see.” God’s providence simply means that God sees to it beforehand. It does not simply mean that God knows beforehand. It is the working of God in advance to arrange circumstances and situations for the fulfilling of His purposes in providing for our needs.
Trusting God for financial blessing makes no sense in the natural realm. In our modern day thinking, we don’t hear much about the providence of God, rather we hear a lot about man’s ingenuity and ability to create wealth.
We have God in a box, that we turn to on Sunday’s or when we have a need, but the rest of the week we work with all our effort to figure out ways to provide for our needs and wants. This is practical atheism, we claim to worship God, but when we have a practical need, we ignore the providence of God.
This does not mean we sit back and do nothing, rather our starting point is different.
We begin by presenting our needs before our heavenly father and ask Him for the provision.
Then wait on the Lord and asking Him for what we must do, following His direction.
Initially the Philippian church did not have the opportunity to send Paul support, but now they could, and it was the perfect timing as Paul was in prison and had a desperate need. Paul thanked them and showed that even though he was in need, he was still content (Philippians 4:11-12)
What Paul described his secret of contentment.
Paul had learnt from what the Lord has taken him through.
V11: for I have learned – to be content
V12: I know how to be brought low – how to live in poverty
V12: I know how to abound – live with riches.
V12: I have learned the secret…
This is knowledge he has gained because of walking with God in obedience to the call of God on his life. James 1:4 calls this, “lacking in nothing”. Lacking in nothing is the outcome of the faith produced by the trials of life. The original Greek says, “wanting for nothing”.
When you grow in your faith, you may go through seasons of need, and seasons of abundance, but you will never want for anything (Philippians 4:19).
But we focus so much on the discomfort of being in need we sometimes miss the challenge of abounding, which means to have more than enough. Read the warning in Revelation 3:17 as Jesus writes the letter to the church in Laodicea. In the light of eternity, prosperity is far more dangerous than poverty. We must guard against the false sense of security that comes with financial gain, that takes our eyes off the source of all our provision.
This passage is so well known for verse 13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”.
This verse has been used by sportsmen and women all over the world. But you cannot take this verse out of the context of scripture and use it like a magic bullet, expecting God to bless everything we decide to do. The key to this verse is “through Christ”, and the verse must be seen in light of the previous text.
Everything in nature relies on hidden resources to grow and flourish. The most important part of a tree is the part you cannot see, the root system. The most important part of the Christian’s life is the presence of the Holy Spirit, where we get our life sustaining power to live the Christian life.
Paul depended on the power of Christ at work in his life.
Paul was declaring that through the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit, he could do anything that God called him to do. The Greek wording for this verse says, “all things I can do in the one empowering me.”
Paul states that to be a Christian, is to be “IN CHRIST”, this is the very essence of what it means to be a Christian (Acts 17:28, Job 12:10).
Some quote this verse as, “I can do whatever I dream up, because Christ is with me.” This is not claiming the promise of God’s Word, this is the very definition of witchcraft. Rather the follower of Jesus who has submitted to his lordship says, “I can do all that he asks me to do because I am in him.” Jesus teaches this same lesson in John 15. He is the Vine; we are the branches, the branch does not bear fruit through its own self-effort, but by drawing on the life of the Vine (John 15:5).
A common mistake Christians make is trying to do things for Jesus, out of gratitude or guilt we somehow try to pay for our salvation. But that is not what the Bible says at all. We are called to abide in Jesus and allow the presence of the Holy spirit to transform us and then being IN CHRIST, he works through us, leading us to do what he calls us to do.
What is God calling you to do, that only God can do, that is the essential message of Philippians 4:13. What have you been trying to do in your own strength, that Christ never intended for you to do?