The Philippian church had supported Paul financially, and this letter was, at least in part, a ‘thank you’ note to them.
The Christian life does not necessarily move in a straight line. We can have ‘ups and downs’ on the chart. I realised a little while ago that I had always thought about Paul as a poor man. But in fact he said, ‘’I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.’’ (12) ‘’I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little.’’ The Message.
Now I’m sure that Paul’s ‘plenty’ was significantly less than mine, and that his ‘need’ was more severe than anything I have ever known. But I resonate with his words to some extent. Like many, I’ve known times when it was a struggle to ‘make ends meet’. One church I served could give little financial support. It was a joy to serve them, and as I was a single man, living in a small one room bed-sit, I didn’t need much at all. In later years God has blessed in ways I could never have asked or imagined. But in some ways I found it easier to be the relatively poor man with little than the more affluent person with plenty. Paul says here that whatever our financial or material circumstances, whether we are abounding or in shortage, the only way to face the situation is ‘’through him who gives me strength.’’ (13)
If you’re in a place in life (or a ‘season’) where money is tight, you can look to Christ to be your sufficiency, and to provide what you need (18). You will face those tough times in and with Jesus. You’re not alone.
But if we have an abundance (and let’s face it, most of us in the West have) we need the help and strength of Jesus to steward it wisely; to use it as He directs. The challenge is to live generously, sharing our bounty so that we can glorify God and help build the church. We don’t have to apologise for what God has given us, but we do need to realise that we will be held accountable for its use. So may Jesus strengthen us to invest His money wisely.
Paul was grateful for the Philippians’ concern for him. He didn’t want them to think otherwise. But he wanted then to know that whether they were able to get gifts through to him or not, he was ‘’content’’ in the Lord Jesus. But contentment doesn’t come naturally. It is something we have to learn. Such learning comes through the help of Christ.
‘’But godliness with contentment is great gain.’’ (1 Timothy 6:6.)
Prayer: Thank you Lord that whatever my outward circumstances, you are always there.