Commentary on Philippians, 4:10-13 (Content With Jesus)

Philippians 4:10-13


10 But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at length ye have revived your thought for me; wherein ye did indeed take thought, but ye lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.
12 I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want.
13 I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.


10 But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at length ye have revived your thought for me; wherein ye did indeed take thought, but ye lacked opportunity.


“your thought”


“your concern”


Paul makes it clear in verses 15-18 (Phil 4:15-18) that he’s talking about the financial aid the Philippian church provided to him. Paul gives glory to God for this financial assistance, as it’s ultimately the Lord who provides for our needs. However, it’s God’s design that the body of Christ function in this way, to meet each other’s needs.


Churches are to be faithful in providing for the needs of missionaries. Every church should have a good missions program, where missionaries are being supported….and not just missionaries, but other ministries, as well. Churches must not simply look inward to meet their own needs, but outward to the needs of others who are doing the work of the Lord.


While churches must be faithful in meeting the needs of ministries outside their churches, the needs of individuals within their own churches must not be neglected. We must be sensitive to meeting the financial needs of those in our own fellowship. This life is hard, and things happen that put us in difficult financial situations. We can’t close our ears to those individuals and families in our assemblies that need our help.


It must be pointed out that oftentimes our financial struggles are due to our own foolishness or unfaithfulness. We must be praying for guidance and doing what we can to bring in an income. Furthermore, we must be wise in the way we spend our money. We must always be mindful of the fact that everything we have is owned by God. We’re just the managers of it. That’s the role He’s given us, to manage His money wisely.


“now at length ye have revived your thought for me”


Paul says that their concern for him had been revived. As is clear from what he says in verses 15-18, they had provided for Paul in the past – and more than once – and now they’re helping him again….an indication that they again had become aware and sensitive to his needs.


“but ye lacked opportunity.”


Though theyloved Paul and had previously wanted to help him, they lacked the opportunity. Most likely, that was due to the distance between them. Travel in those days was not easy like it is today. To travel to where Paul was, probably took months. Furthermore, there may not have been anyone who was able to make the long trip there and back at that time.


A lack of opportunity to give to missionaries, and to the the work of the Lord in general, is not something we have today. We can’t use that as an excuse. Opportunities today abound, and giving today is only a mouse-click away. The problem today is not a lack of opportunity to give, but a willingness to give. Again, we must be sensitive to those needs and opportunities the Lord brings our way. We have a responsibility to do that both as as an assembly, and as individuals. Whether we’ve been blessed in a large way, or in a small way, each of us is to be faithful to give to the needs of others.


The Lord takes special notice of those who give in spite of having but little (Mark 12:41-44). I believe a wonderful reward awaits those who give out of their poverty for the sake of others and for the sake of God’s work.


11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.


Even though Paul had financial needs, he makes it clear that he had learned how to be content in whatever circumstances he happened to be in. He was faithful to walk in the will of God, so he knew that whatever needs he had was not due to any foolishness on his part. Thus he could simply rest in God, knowing that He had his life in His hand.


Paul knew the Lord cared for him, and that He was working out His plan for him, so he simply rested in that awareness and accepted his current lot as being in the sovereign will of God. In other words, he trusted that the Lord had a purpose in whatever situation he found himself in. Rather than focusing on his needs and the problems he faced, Paul focused on his relationship with the Lord and on the mission that He had called him to. That’s where each of us need to be in our walk with the Lord.


12 I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want.


NIV – “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”


No matter what was going on in his life, Paul had learned the secret of being content in all situations – through both good times and hard times. Paul’s peace and contentment didn’t depend on his circumstances, but in his dependence on Christ, as he says in the next verse:


13 I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.


NKJV – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”


The “secret” to being content in all of his circumstances was in his walk with Christ. In his walk with Him, he obtained the strength to deal with whatever came his way. Paul trusted Him and depended on him to provide him with the mental and physical and spiritual strength that he needed to keep on keeping on. It was a matter of walking in faith, and in faithfulness.


So often, it seems, that we as Christians will live faithfully unto the Lord as long as things are going well. It’s easy to “trust and obey” as long as things are going our way. But it’s the hard situations in life that reveal our true character as a Christian. It’s the difficulties in life that reveal what we’re really made of, and what kind of faith we really have.


We may profess Christ as Lord and Savior, but the trials of life reveal our true heart (Matt 13:18-23). Anyone can live faithfully when God is pouring out His blessings in abundance. But the truth of who we are is revealed when those blessings are taken away or withheld.


It’s important that we find our contentment and joy and peace and fulfillment in our relationship with the Lord, so that when things are no longer going so well, our contentment and joy and peace and fulfillment will remain unchanged.