1: Learn to Celebrate and not Complain! Paul rejoiced in Jesus over good things God gave him. Philippians 4:10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly…19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul kept his focus on what the Lord of Creation was doing in and through his life. He directed others to see God as GOOD, a giver to those who need. A stingy God was not the One that he served – but a God willing and able to bless. Paul PRAISED God! When our lives are centered in praise, our countenance changes. Our heart is lifted – and those around us are lifted as well.
2: Learn to offer Concern not Command! Paul didn’t focus on his entitlement for help, but understood those who could not help. Philippians 4:10b “… that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.
What a stunning reversal from the norm of self absorbed people! Paul wasn’t grousing at them when they didn’t give – but was understanding and patient about the delay. He evaluated their delay as lacking the opportunity – not the desire. Instead of judging their motives as evil, he offered them a gracious note that he understood their slow response to his needs.
3: Learn to be Content and not Cause Commotion! Paul learned to rest in the place God put him. Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
Paul took pains to learn to settle down and allow God to work. We become frustrated and impatient when we don’t see God at work the way we desire Him to – filling our needs as they come up. The fact is that God is under no obligation to jump through hoops for me – and any mature believer knows this! At the same time, it takes a whole learning curve to learn to rest in His arms in my times of trouble.
4: Learn to Cope and not become Careless! Paul could make the most of a little but could also rest in abundant places. Philippians 4:12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
When you first read this, it is easy to conclude that Paul’s chief accomplishment was to be able to live in humble and meager times and places. Look again! The problem of being able to go from “famine” to “feast” was also difficult! Having abundance creates a hunger to fulfill every need in this sphere – the physical world. Moving between times of lack and times of fullness is even more difficult than living in one or the other. Paul learned, and then modeled, the lesson of coping!
5: Learn to Collect but not Consume! Paul drew his strength for living from Jesus Himself. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
In the context, Paul’s “all things” regards contentment in both times of abundance and times of lack. That Paul learned to be calm through both was its own lesson – but here he offers a special secret as to how such calm overtook him. Paul drew on Jesus’ presence and comfort in the watch care of his life. It the arms of his Savior he found peace and stability – regardless of circumstance.
6: Learn to Confirm and not Criticize! Paul affirmed those around him for their service. Philippians 4:14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction…. 17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
People need affirmation, some desperately so. Paul offered pointed positive words to those who were doing well, in order to encourage them to continue to follow the Lord’s gentle leading. He didn’t presume they would understand what they did… He TOLD THEM. Here is a great secret: people don’t leave jobs as often as they leave BOSSES. They leave people, because they find themselves in a hole. One way to add to another’s life is to openly and often affirm their worth.
7: Learn to offer Consideration and not Contempt! Paul remembered the good things people did for him. Philippians 4:15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.
Paul wanted to recall the past – but not the failures of others. He recalled the specifics of their generosity to him, and the good that it did the ministry. He kept track of the good, but deliberately tried to distance his memory from the negative attacks of ministry. He knew the best way to lead people was to remember the good and release the bad. The negative only drags you into a slump!
In the end, Paul understood the dangerous traps of the enemy. He knew that he could have chosen at any time to delve into a suspicion about his colleagues, seeking hidden reasons why they responded in each situation. He chose to assume the best of them. He could have dwelt on his problems and sought someone to blame. Rather, he felt the productive thing to do was celebrate God’s strength shown through his personal challenges. He could have set up himself with unrealistic expectations, but that was not nearly as exciting as inviting the team to participate in the victory that he knew they would all eventually experience!