Philippians 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
There are false teachers today who lie to people and suggest that the Christian life is a life of ease. They suggest that if a person just has enough faith, then life will just click along fine. The false teachers have found a way to convince the gullible to give them money so that they can live in luxury. Then these false teachers try to suggest that every Christian should live that way. There are many who have given their hard earned cash to these deceivers, but they know they have not been “blessed” as the deceivers teach they should be. Many of them still follow these deceivers. They treat it similar to the lottery ticket. They lose and lose and lose, but they still believe that payday is coming. They convince themselves that if they don’t play the game they will never win. It takes many suckers to provide for one individual to make a few quick bucks that usually get blown away very quickly.
In verse 12 Paul talked reality. He knew what it was like to be abased. The Greek word translated as “abased” means to be humbled. Paul had wasted many years being trained as a Pharisee. He found out in a very short moment that he had fallen for deception. He was converted and became a faithful follower of the true God and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He had had great power and prestige and all that went with that as a Pharisee. His life was much different as a saved man. He had all his needs met, but he certainly did not run in the same circles any longer. He never told anyone else that if they would just give him some “seed money”, they would be amazed at how the Lord would pour out a blessing on them.
Paul knew what it was like to be hungry and he knew what it was like to full. He knew what it was like to be a free man with great liberty to travel and establish churches. He also knew what it was like to suffer need as a child of God. Prison life was not a way to get rich. It was also not a way to live in luxury. He was on constant supervision from soldiers. He was completely dependent upon the loving gifts of fellow saints who were led by God to bless him.
In that context, we read verse 13. There are people who take that verse out of context and use it as though a “Christian” should never run up against a situation that is too big for them. The reality is that true saints will often find themselves facing situations that are greater than they can handle. That is why Paul declared that he could do all things through Christ. His strength was found in Christ, not in Himself.
Jesus Christ warned the disciples that the false religious leaders would arrest them and imprison them. He warned that those false teachers would believe they were doing God’s work.
Paul could still write to the Philippian saints and encourage them because he was functioning in Christ’s strength. He could be a faithful witness even while guarded by Roman soldiers who were more loyal to their commanders than they were to the life of a prisoner.
God provided the boldness that Paul needed to face every situation with a peace that passeth understanding.
In verse 14 Paul praised the saints in Philippi in that they had done well in sending him the recent gift. They had done what they could to meet his needs. They had sacrificed of what they had so that a fellow saint could do the work that God had called him to.
That is how true Christianity works. God calls some to be leaders. He equips them to be leaders. He sends them out to different places and in different circumstances to be leaders. It is God’s design that His chosen servants be able to give themselves fully to the work He has called them to. When they have to take time to find other means of feeding themselves it robs them of the opportunity to serve God as He would want them to. Lost people need to be reminded of the importance of turning to the Lord. Saints need to be strengthened and encouraged in their walk with the Lord.
In verse 15 Paul reminded the saints in Philippi that they had been willing to help him when other saints were not willing. Others needed to learn the importance of giving to the work of the Lord. There are people who are always trying to get others to invest in some financial endeavour. They promise a certain return rate, and those with extra funds are often looking for a way to increase their wealth.
There is nothing wrong with being good stewards. The important thing is to be good stewards. The investment in a faithful servant of God is a treasure laid up in heaven. That treasure is worth more than all that this world has to offer.
Paul was encouraging the saints to keep their eye on the prize. Investing in Paul was a good investment. Paul was not a compromiser. He stood true to the Lord. He was bold in his witness. He did not change his message before kings and governors. He was faithful to the Lord in every different situation. Those he spoke to received a clear message. They came away knowing the truth. Not many received the truth, but they could not say they did not hear the truth. Paul suffered for speaking the truth. He was not apologizing for the truth. He was not looking for some “easier” way to live. He was not looking for some place to go and hide. He was going to continue to serve the true God as long as he had breath.
That is the type of spiritual leadership we need today. We need men who will count the cost and will serve God no matter what. We need men who are not motivated by power, or prestige or material gain. We need men who are willing to suffer loss in this world and are willing to press toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus.
We need to pray for such men and we need to be willing to invest in the work of the Lord by supporting such men. A faithful man of God will not waste the Lord’s money on luxuries. He will not have a warehouse with several jets and live in a fancy house, etc. He will be someone who is willing to look forward to the mansion that Jesus Christ has prepared for His faithful children.
Paul was not a burden to the saints in Philippi. He was a blessing to them and they were a blessing to him. That is what God asks of His children.