Passage: Philippians 4:10-20
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Partnering Together For The Gospel
God Our Strength & Supply
One of the incredible blessings of belonging to God’s church is the opportunity we have to care for one another and to receive care in return. As we are able, we provide meals, financial support, emotional presence, counsel, and friendship to our hungry, struggling, lonely members. And in return, in our moments of weakness, the body of Christ shows itself to truly be our family and friends. Paul also had that kind of beautiful community with the Philippian church. But what is extraordinary about Paul’s conversation with the Philippians is how fully Paul embraces the third member of community care: God himself. As Paul begins his thanksgiving section, he gives thanks to God rather than directly to the Philippians, celebrating how God is the source of the Philippians’ concern for Paul (Philippians 4:10), how God is the source of the strength Paul receives to face plenty and hunger (4:11-13), and how God is the true recipient of our gifts to one another (4:14-20).
First, Paul thanks God for reviving the Philippians’ concernfor him (4:10). Paul identifies God as the source of our love for one another. When we feel that tug on our hearts of concern for someone’s needs, that drive to pray for others, that compulsion to help and care as much as we can, that is the love of God filling our hearts for each other. This makes it good and right for us both to give thanks to God for the ways he demonstrates his love for us through each other’s care and concern, and to seek God’s help for our hardened hearts when we feel no compassion for those in need. If our hearts are going to change, to care, to love more deeply, we will need God’s help.
So it’s especially encouraging that God is also the source of Paul’s strength(4:11-13). While Paul appreciates the Philippians’ gifts and the ways those have eased his life, Paul has never expected or demanded an easy life from God. Rather, he knows that God may allow him to face hunger and want, or to enjoy plenty and ease. Both hunger and want have their dangers to the life of faith. Yet in all the things Paul has lived through, he has found that by God’s strength he can face them and remain faithful. When we seek God’s hand for help, may we also seek his strength to remain faithful no matter the circumstances he allows us to go through.
Finally, not only is God the source of our love, and our strength, but God is even the true recipient of our gifts(4:14-20). The Philippians have left Paul very well supplied, but Paul downplays even his need of the gift. Rather, he encourages the Philippians in their practice of giving by pointing them to another reality beyond Paul’s comfort. Giving to those God fills our hearts with compassion towards is also ultimately a gift God receives himself. It is “a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God”, a kind of “fruit” that accrues to our “credit” with God (4:17-18). It is remarkable that God is the one who supplies our hearts with love and concern, supplies our souls with the strength to give even sacrificially, and is also the one who has supplied us with all we have (4:19), and yet he still delights in our giving and credits us with the action! Shouldn’t God get all the credit since he gave all the supply? And yet this is another mystery of the grace-filled relationship we have with God. Though God has supplied all the means, he still delights in our obedient participation with him in the giving.
So, may we delight in the God who fills us with love toward each other, may we follow His leadings of compassion to give sacrificially for each other’s needs, as we lean on God’s strength and support in all things. To God be the glory! And thank you God, for supplying us with a giving and receiving community, your body the church!