Paul’s letter to the Philippians gives us a snapshot of him in prison, laying aside his personal needs and concerns as he tells members of the imperial household the Good News about Jesus, and as he crafts letters to firm up young believers.
So the self-denying perspective of his “thank you” to the Philippian believers for their gift rings true.
Interact with God’s Word: Philippians 4:10-20
- Paul refers, in verse 14, to his “present difficulty.” What was his situation when he wrote this letter?
- How could Paul state, in verse 11, that he had never been in need? Doesn’t he add that he has learned to live on “almost nothing” and with an empty stomach?
- When you’ve heard verse 13 quoted, is managing with plenty or little what has come to your mind?
- How about the promise of verse 19? Is it unconditional? Or is it offered to those living sacrificial and generous lives?
- How do you distinguish between your needs and your wants?
- How do you square Paul’s insistence that God is taking care of him with the circumstantial extremes he has just cited?
Spend Time in Prayer: Ask God to help you focus less on your material situation and more on bringing glory to Him.
10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. 15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.
16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. 18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.
19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.