Anxiety flees from a heart that trusts God. But who among us finds it easy to trust the Lord when our circumstances are tempting us to doubt? So we must do something to overcome our worries and doubts, and Paul offers some great advice in that regard.
First, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (4:4). Regardless of what we’re enduring, we always have much for which to rejoice. We’re on the road to heaven! Rejoicing is faith in action.
Second, “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (4:6). Thanksgiving is the key. Faith-filled prayers are full of thanksgiving.
Third, monitor your thought life and determine to dwell upon only those things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise (4:8). Grumpy, negative people are the product of grumpy, negative thoughts! Positive thinking is powerful!
Doing those three things is a sure recipe for experiencing “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,” which “guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (4:7). Our journey is supposed to be a joyful, peaceful one.
One other ingredient in Paul’s recipe for peace is found in 4:9: “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Peace is the possession of those who do the will of God. And isn’t it interesting that, while many modern ministers say, “Don’t follow me; follow Christ,” Paul encouraged everyone to practice what they saw him do? He similarly wrote to the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). That is the motto of every disciple-making minister.
As Paul closed his letter, he expressed his gratitude for the offering he had just received from the Philippians via their messenger, Epaphroditus. As those who believed the gospel, the Philippian Christians naturally wanted to help the person whom God used to bring the gospel to them and who was taking the gospel to others. What a privilege it is to “participate in the gospel” (1:5) by supporting God’s messengers!
Paul made it clear that, although he “rejoiced in the Lord greatly” when he received their gift, it wasn’t because he was in great need (4:11), although he admitted to having an “affliction” (4:14). His joy had more to do with the fact that the Philippians were laying up heavenly treasures, or as he beautifully said it, “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account” (4:17).
Even prior to the arrival of Epaphroditus, Paul was content in his circumstance by the power of Christ (4:11, 13). He had learned to “get along with humble means” as well as “live in prosperity” (4:12).
Of course, when he referred to being periodically prosperous, he did not mean that there were times when he lived in lavish luxury and self-indulgence. That would make him a hypocrite, since he had instructed the Philippians to “do nothing from selfishness” (2:3) and so on. Paul more clearly defined the periodic prosperity he enjoyed in verse 12. When he was prosperous, he was “filled” rather than “hungry.” When he was prosperous, he had “abundance,” that is, more than he needed, contrasted with when he found himself “suffering need.” As a result of the Philippians’ offering, he was now again enjoying “abundance” and was “amply supplied” (4:18). Obviously, he did not mean that he could now live in luxury like a modern prosperity preacher, since he was under house arrest when he wrote those words. Yet Paul considered himself prosperous even under such circumstances.
The gift sent by the Philippians was sacrificially given and “well-pleasing to God” (4:18). Because the Philippians had “sought first God’s kingdom” (Matt. 6:33), Paul was quite confident that God would keep His promise to supply all their needs “according to His riches in glory” (4:19). The only Christians who can rightfully claim that God will supply all their needs are those who, like the Philippian believers, are givers. I hope you are in that category!