One of my pastor friends, Dr. Terry Fields, once preached a sermon the gist of which was “we don’t know how good we have it.” Paul wrote from prison to the church at Phillipi which he had visited on his second missionary journey (Acts 16). Yes, Paul was in prison … wrongly accused … yet he wrote his letter of thankfulness for an offering that had been provided by the members of the church at Phillipi. As Paul closed his letter he related that Christians can rejoice even when steeped in turmoil and immense anxiety because Christ is the root of their strength.
Scripture: (all KJV unless otherwise noted)
I have chosen three specific verses from chapter 4 for the purpose of this article, but the entirety of the chapter is rich and worth the reading.
Philippians 4:11; 4:13; 4:19 – 11Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. 19But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
These verses in particular remind me of Christ’s sufficiency to strengthen and sustain us no matter the circumstances. Christ lives and indwells the Christian through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Verse 11 closes with the phrase “to be content.” The state of contentment means a state of satisfaction … to be pleased, in the state of peaceful happiness. Hebrews 13:5 (WBT) reads “Let your manner of life be without covetousness and “be content” with such things as ye have; for He hath said I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” What an eternal promise from a changeless Christ! Why would I question this promise?
In verse 13 Paul confidently says he can do ALL things through Christ’s strength. ALL doesn’t mean some, or part, or nearly everything … in the words of my current pastor, Dr. Keith Pisani, “ALL means ALL and that’s ALL that ALL can mean.” Even in the toughest situations, Christ’s strength is sufficient. Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5 – I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.). The emphasis in this verse is not on “I”, nor “my” strength. Rather it is through “Christ” Jesus and “His” strength that we can accomplish ALL things. When we take on situations with our own strength, we are basically defenseless against evil and the wiles of the devil. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” You see, we can’t do it, but God can! And He should receive the glory … not us.
In verse 19 Paul adds his final encouragement to his beloved brothers saying that God will supply everything they need. No matter how impossible situations may seem God is able to overcome.
God, and God alone, is due ALL of the glory for what He accomplishes through the Christian. Glory heaped on the Christian for his accomplishments is grossly misplaced. Paul is clearly saying that God is the “source” and “provider” for all our needs. We are only the “pipeline” through which God works. The believer has sufficiency in Christ … and there is sufficiency in none other. Why would we depend on ourselves when we have the promise of the Master of the Universe that He alone is sufficient?
So in closing, do you agree with Dr. Fields bold statement that “we don’t know how good we have it.” I, for one, can truly say that I identify with this truth.
I recently wrote another article titled “Do!” based on selected verses in Philippians 4 that you can read by following this link: https://jimdavenport.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/do/