Most people know Philippians 4:13. But do we understand what it means? Out of context, its meaning can be much different from what it was intended. Just like any scripture, read at least the entire chapter. Who is the author speaking to? What is the theme and setting of the book? Thanksgiving has just past. It is a time of giving thanks for all that we have. We should be grateful in good times and bad, because God has blessed us in so many ways, sometimes we don’t even realize it until later in life. So, what does Thanksgiving have to do with what Paul was talking about in his letter to the Philippians, anyway?
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Living in this country, we are blessed by many things. In Philippians, Paul talks about how we can be content no matter what our circumstances. Rich or poor, sickness and health…I know, sounds like a marriage vow. In some ways, it is. We are the bride of Christ and through Him we can be content in all things. Many people misuse Philippians 4:13 and don’t look at the context. They think they can do anything, that they just ask God and everything will work out the way they want. Prayer is about God’s will and us yielding to Him. Looking at the context of this verse, it is about rejoicing in the Lord whether things are going well in our life or we are struggling. God is in control and sometimes things happen to build your character or help you to grow or so that you can help others in a particular situation.
The apostle Paul had been through everything…prestige and fame as a Pharisee, but also imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked, mobbed, you name it. Yet, once he was saved and trusted in Jesus Christ, he always turned to God and put Him first; no matter the situation, he prayed first and continually. He found joy in it all and people could see it. We (I!) need to do the same. I have had hardship, but nothing compared to what he went through or what others go through. We in America are so spoiled. I spent a little bit of time in Haiti and it was so humbling, to see people who have next to nothing but still seemed happy. I saw people who are living in poverty and struggling to survive, but I always saw smiles on their faces and I could see contentment. They clung to Jesus Christ. I saw warfare between voodoo and Christian groups and it was spooky, but they never gave up. I saw the hungry offering food to us. I saw them worship without holding back. We can learn a lot from them. We need to have this same love and joy. If we rely on him, and follow His will, He will lead us and work in us and through us.
“You live where you are as who you are for the glory of Christ.” (I heard this somewhere, but don’t remember where, but thought it fir well)
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Paul wanted to make a point that no matter what the situation is, you can rejoice that God is with you and He always works things out for good. You may not see it at the time, but it is true. I have seen this happen over and over again. Seek the Lord and pray to Him about everything. Let Him guide your path. Remember what Jesus did for you on the cross. He gave His life and took on the sins of the world, so if we believe in Him and ask for forgiveness, He will forgive and put all your sins away. As we seek Him, He will change our lives; our desires will align with His will. He gives us hope and will help us to grow as believers.
We have no need to worry because God is in control. We don’t know what the future lies, nor why things happen the way they do. God knows what is best for us, and even though we live in a fallen world, and because of that bad things happen to good people. God will make the worst of situations into something good. He also blesses us in so many ways. Dwell on those things. It’s good for your heart! And, remember to always give Him the praise and thank God for all He has done.
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
Sing praises on the harp to our God,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who prepares rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.