- Lesson 13 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Pure Joy” focuses on Philippians 4:10-23.
Continuing his theme of joy, Paul began verse 10 by echoing a common theme throughout the book—he was filled with joy in relation to the Philippians. Here, he spoke of a joy that stems from their concern for his welfare. Paul was not selfishly focused on himself. He acknowledged he was in some form of need (4:11) and he expressed sincere appreciation for what the believers in Philippi have sent through Epaphroditus (4:18). He said it gave him reason to rejoice greatly in the Lord (4:10).
And yet, in the midst of all of this gratitude and thanksgiving, notice the heart of what Paul said in verses 11-12: “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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.”
The context of what Paul was talking about in verse 13 is exactly the opposite of how we so oftentimes misuse this verse. We usually pull it out and claim it for things we do not have. Let’s say we believe God is calling us to forgive someone that we have really been hurt by, and so we claim Philippians 4:13 and ask God to empower us to forgive someone else. At times, we may even use it to request material things. We might pray, “Lord, my car is broken and I need a new one. Your word says that we are able to do all things through your strength, so help me to be able to get the car that I need.” We talk about this verse when we face emotionally draining times like grief or sadness, and we claim this verse, expecting that God is going to get us out of our hardship.
While we should cry out to God, this verse does not give us license to express dissatisfaction over our current condition and plead for God to change our circumstances. In fact, contextually, the verse was Paul’s testimony that even though he was in the midst of some severe challenges, perhaps even life-threatening challenges, he remained content. So, the “all things” he referred to in verse 13, was the need to be content in his exact circumstances no matter what they were. Instead of whining and complaining to God to change things in his life, Paul celebrated God, no matter what state he was in.
When we lack contentment, we truly are expressing a distrust in God and his ability to provide what is the absolute best for us. We need the supernatural strength of God to find contentment in some of the most challenging circumstances in life. Godly strength is found in first acknowledging there is no greener grass than what God has provided you on your own side of the fence. When we find contentment, we find wellness for our souls.
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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