So far Paul has taken us on a deep dive into Christianity during our study of Philippians. He has shown us what the gospel life should look like and how God exalts the humble sinner who repents their weaknesses. On this journey through the wilderness of a sinful world, we continuously press on to become more like Jesus, laying our anxieties at the feet of Christ and rejoicing in all circumstances. This week we reach the next level: being content in all circumstances. Matt Chandler uses Paul’s life as an example to show that whether we have plenty or want, live a life of persecution or prosperity, we can do it all only through Christ who gives us strength.
Reading for the Week
Chapter 11 – Christ is All
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.Philippians 4:11-13
There are few biographies as inspiring as that of the apostle Paul. Paul’s life starts out great as he grows up in a wealthy family and moves through the Jewish ranks to become the “next best thing“. He is so zealous for his faith that he persecutes Christians only to be stopped in his tracks by Jesus who, literally and figuratively, removes the scales from his eyes. Through a long and interesting journey, the persecutor becomes the persecuted, fleeing for his life and suffering more than most of us will ever have to endure. Yet, at the end of his letter to the Philippians, Paul can say he has “learned in whatever situation… to be content“.
We can read a catalog of lows from Paul’s life in 2 Corinthians 11:24-25. After countless beatings, being shipwrecked, fearing for his life from robbers, friends, and foes, being hungry and poor, and worrying about his fellow believers, Paul can still proclaim “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Very few of us will have to endure a life like Paul’s. Yet, I don’t know about you, but I can rarely say that I have learned to be content in all circumstances.
What has carried me through many deep valleys and tough climbs has been the assurance that “I can do all things through him who strengthens me “(Philippians 4:13).
I have to agree with Matt Chandler, that this verse is most often used out of context. It does not mean that Christ will guarantee that you achieve all your dreams like being a winning athlete or the CEO of your own company. He can do miracles but that’s not what Paul is talking about here. This verse encourages us that we can face “plenty and hunger, abundance and need” through the strength of Christ. We can fight the Christian fight only with the help of our Saviour.
Through highs and lows, better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, when Christ becomes your all.Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
Living a gospel-shaped life means that we are secure as Christ is. Even in great suffering or persecution, we can endure with Christ. Whether we live or die, we can rejoice because we will either suffer with Jesus or be with him forever.
Do you find your satisfaction in Christ? Is your impulse to rejoice in the gospel in times of stress, frustration, disappointment, and trouble?
I know my impulse does not measure up.
But through Christ’s strength, I can mature into contentment.
Here are your reflection questions for Chapter 11.
This week Matt Chandler discusses the polar opposites we experience in the Christian life.